Bill Aiding Families with International Adoption Challenges Clears Judiciary Committee
WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Senator Chuck Grassley today advanced legislation to provide financial reprieve to families who are unable to bring home children who have been adopted in other countries. The Adoptive Families Relief Act, which was authored by senators Dianne Feinstein and Ron Johnson, allows the State Department to waive visa renewal fees for children who have been adopted by American families but whose entry into the United States is delayed because of factors beyond their control.
“Families who step up to provide a safe, stable and loving home for children struggling overseas are a source of inspiration and hope, here and abroad. Unfortunately, too often, these families encounter challenges beyond their control when bringing their child home. We need to do our part to make sure that we support them along this journey. The Adoptive Families Relief Act will help minimize the financial strain on these families as they work to overcome hurdles to uniting with their adoptive children. I thank my colleagues on the committee for their work to move this bill forward and look forward to final passage by the full Senate,” Grassley said.
Delays could be caused by foreign governments’ decisions to stall the adoption process. For example, more than 350 children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been successfully adopted by American families, but since 2013 the government there has refused to issue exit visas necessary for the children to be united with their families in America. As a result, the adoptive families face challenges and added expenses of caring for the children while they remain stuck in a foreign country. In the meantime, the child’s U.S.-issued visa needed to enter the United States expires after six months. Families must then continually renew the American visas, a process that can cost up to $550 each time. The bill passed out of Grassley’s committee will allow for the fees to be refunded or waived.
The bipartisan bill, cosponsored by Grassley, will help families facing adoption delays in any foreign nation for any reason beyond the family’s control. The bill advanced in the Judiciary Committee by voice vote and now awaits action by the full Senate.