May 19, 2021
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, announced that they have reintroduced the Safe Home Act to protect adopted children from unregulated custody transfers (UCT). This legislation would add UCTs to the federal definition of child abuse and neglect under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. UCTs occur when parents transfer custody of their adopted child outside of the child welfare system – without background checks, home studies, or supervision – increasing the likelihood that the child will experience neglect, exploitation, or physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Companion legislation in the House was introduced by U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin (R.I.) and Don Bacon (Neb.).
“Rehoming is a traumatizing practice that puts children at higher risk of exploitation and abuse,” said Blunt. “By classifying rehoming as child abuse, child welfare authorities will have an important tool to keep kids safe. I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan, bicameral bill.”
“We must do everything we can to protect adopted children and ensure they are placed in safe, loving homes,” said Klobuchar. “When people bypass the legal adoption process, children are placed at risk of neglect and abuse. I’ll keep working to pass this legislation and improve the adoption process for families and children.”
“The Safe Home Act will help put an end to unregulated custody transfers and ensure that the needs and safety of adopted children come first,” said Langevin, co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth. “By providing child protective services with clear guidance to tackle troubling rehoming practices, we can equip them with the power to hold accountable those who put vulnerable children at risk. I thank my House and Senate colleagues for their collaboration on this legislation that prioritizes the well-being of children.”
“Unregulated custody transfers or ‘rehoming,’ has become a dangerous practice within the child welfare system,” said Bacon. “Adoptions that are unregulated occur without any oversight by the government, and our youth can be exposed to possible neglect, abuse, and exploitation. This bill prevents the rehoming of adopted children and enforces much needed protection and regulations by classifying it as a form of child abuse. This ensures our nation’s most vulnerable youth are guaranteed a safe, loving, and stable home.”
The Safe Home Act protects a parent’s ability to place their children with a trusted relative when appropriate, but ensures they cannot transfer custody to a stranger without the oversight of the child welfare system. The bill defines UCT as the placement of a child:
The bill also requires the Department of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Department of State, to issue a report to Congress on UCT and recommendations on preventing, identifying, and responding to these cases.
For years, Blunt and Klobuchar have worked to improve the adoption process for Americans: