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Blunt, Klobuchar Urge Administration to Ensure Intercountry Adoptions Proceed in Safe and Timely Manner During Coronavirus Pandemic

Families are currently overseas waiting to be issued visas for their adopted children before they can return home

April 23, 2020

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Senate Co-Chairs of the Congressional Adoption Caucus, led a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking that the Department of State (DOS) use all available resources to ensure that intercountry adoptions proceed in a safe and timely manner during the coronavirus pandemic and that American families stranded abroad while completing these adoptions return home safely. Blunt and Klobuchar also requested information on the steps DOS is taking to issue visas for intercountry adoptions that have been finalized as well as how DOS is providing detailed and consistent communications to families attempting to complete an intercountry adoption.
“Last month, DOS suspended routine visa services and announced that limited U.S. Embassy and consulate resources as well as foreign government policies could affect the process for issuing visas for intercountry adoptions. We understand that there are numerous families overseas waiting for their visas to be issued for their adopted children before they can return home,” the senators wrote. “We are concerned that these changes could leave families stranded overseas and could exacerbate already long processing times for intercountry adoptions. These delays could also lengthen stays in foreign countries and prevent adoptive children from critical time with their families in the United States.”
As Co-Chairs of the Congressional Adoption Caucus, Blunt and Klobuchar have been leaders in the fight to give every child a permanent home. In November 2019, they encouraged Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary of Administration for Children and Families Lynn Johnson and Department of State Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Carl Risch to raise awareness for National Adoption Month.
In May 2019, they introduced the Supporting Adoptive Families Act to support adoptive families and to help provide pre- and post- adoption support services, including mental health treatment, to help adoptive families stay strong.
In April 2019, they led a letter to the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State regarding the Administration’s decision to close the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) international offices and expressed concern over the potential negative impact these closures would have on processing intercountry adoptions.
In February 2019, they introduced legislation to improve the intercountry adoption process. The bipartisan Intercountry Adoption Advisory Committee Act provides the Secretary of State the authority to establish an Intercountry Adoption Advisory Committee within the Bureau of Consular Affairs to focus on coordinating the development, refinement, and implementation of policy and programs on intercountry adoption.
The letter was also joined by House Co-Chairs of the Congressional Adoption Caucus, U.S. Representatives Donna Shalala (Fla.) and Robert Aderholdt (Ala.).
The full text of the letter can be found HERE and below:
Dear Secretary Pompeo:
We write to urge the Department of State (DOS) to use all available resources to ensure that intercountry adoptions proceed in a safe and timely manner during the coronavirus pandemic. We also write to ask what steps the Department is taking to issue visas for intercountry adoptions that have been finalized and to ensure the safe return of American families stranded abroad while completing these adoptions.
Last month, DOS suspended routine visa services and announced that limited U.S. Embassy and consulate resources as well as foreign government policies could affect the process for issuing visas for intercountry adoptions. We understand that there are numerous families overseas waiting for their visas to be issued for their adopted children before they can return home. We are concerned that these changes could leave families stranded overseas and could exacerbate already long processing times for intercountry adoptions. These delays could also lengthen stays in foreign countries and prevent adoptive children from critical time with their families in the United States.
It is essential that families waiting abroad are able to safely return to the United States as soon as possible, and we ask that you provide information on the Department’s plans to issue visas for intercountry adoptions of children and to ensure the safe return of American families currently abroad attempting to complete an adoption. Additionally, we respectfully request that you let us know what steps are being taken to provide detailed and consistent communications to families attempting to complete an intercountry adoption.
Thank you for your attention to this issue, and we look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

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