CHIFF is new US legislation related to international adoption. Its full name is Children in Families First. You can read about it on their website.
The ostensible goal is something most humans can agree on: children should grow up in loving, safe families.
CHIFF, however, would like to change “US policies and investments” to do this. That’s where things begin to fall apart.
Why will and should CHIFF fail?
Because it is essentially the product of a union between the US Congress and adoption agencies, with some adoptive parents mixed in as well.
Look at the list of CHIFF Working Group Executive Committee:
The CHIFF Working Group Executive Committee
American Academy of Adoption Attorneys
Both Ends Burning
Center for Adoption Policy
Child Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School
Christian Alliance for Orphans
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute
Joint Council on International Children’s Services
National Council For Adoption
Look at the list of CHIFF’s Supporting Organizations:
Futuro de los Ninos
International Child Advocacy Network
Gladney Center for Adoption
University of Minnesota, International Adoption Clinic
Golden Cradle Adoption
Children’s Home Society and Lutherans Social Service of Minnesota
All God’s Children International Children’s Hope
Adoptions of Indiana
Lutheran Social Services of the South, Inc
Michael S. Goldstein, Esq., LCSW
WACAP (World Association for Children and Parents
Children’s House International
European Adoption Consultants
Who’s not on either of these lists?
Advocates who give voice to International Adoptees and First Parents. Here’s a sampling.
Click on any of these links for further information about the organizations:
Whether any of these groups (and many others like them) were consulted in the formulation of CHIFF, I do not know. I doubt it, since none is listed as a supporter. The above list runs something of a gamut in terms of advocacy and attitudes towards adoption. I acknowledge that an extraordinarily talented facilitator would be needed to guide a discussion among them and the supporters of CHIFF.
Here’s the point: CHIFF is lauded by the US House and Senate sponsors, along with some big names in adoption agency work, as an important, significant piece of adoption reform legislation. There may be some good policy ideas in it. But adoption agencies (and adoption attorneys) have a substantial economic stake in this, though some may also have a moral and ethical stake.
The fact that there was no consultation nor buy-in from significant international adoptee or first parent groups, and that there is no public support from these groups, is revealing.
It’s also outrageous.
And that is why this legislation should fail.
Until our US government takes seriously the range of views of international adult adoptees and until it engages those adoptees and international first families in a transparent and public way, there can be no genuinely meaningful international adoption policy.