Stanford Law Review: CHIFF Overlooks Best Interests of the Child

Along with many others in the adoption community, I have written about the extensive flaws in CHIFF, the Children in Families First Act. No one disagrees that all children deserve safe, loving families. Much disagreement exists about whether CHIFF genuinely meets the problems that exist in adoption today.

A new voice has spoken about CHIFF’s deficiencies. A recent article in the Stanford Law Review by Nila Bala, a Yale Law School graduate and current Public Interest Fellow, addresses the bill’s various shortcomings.

Here are a few excerpts from “The Children in Families First Act: Overlooking International Law and the Best Interests of the Child.”

Unfortunately,…many government leaders are supporting the Children in Families First Act (CHIFF), new legislation that hopes to increase the number of international adoptions, without addressing the problems that currently exist.

CHIFF puts children at risk by weakening the Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA) and the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, (Hague Convention), which have at least provided for some pre-adoption protections. Additionally, like the IAA, CHIFF fails to provide for post-adoption assistance.

CHIFF hopes to reappropriate about sixty million dollars per year to establish the new Bureau of Vulnerable Children and Family Security in the State Department and to establish a USAID Center for Excellence for Children in Adversity.

If millions of dollars are pumped into incentivizing intercountry adoptions, it is reasonable to expect that fraud may increase as well. Unfortunately, the bill glosses over the very real concerns of child trafficking, fraud, and corruption.

I’ve added the emphasis above. The perspective of this highly-regardedĀ legal publication–not an adoption agency or adoptive parent–is powerful and valuable. Let’s hope our members of Congress listen closely.

Everyone agrees that children deserve families. CHIFF needs to genuinely address several existing problems: Let’s include adoptees and first parents in the conversation. Let’s provide equitable services. Let’s increase pre- and post- adoption resources. Let’s not spend $60 million without acknowledging current, painful realities around re-homing, citizenship/deportation, fraud, and corruption. Let’s emphasize family preservation first.

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