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November 2000Vol. 1, No. 7Federal Legislation Enacted on International Adoption

Legislation that affects U.S. adoptions of overseas orphans was recently signed into law by the President. In 1999, more than 16,000 orphans from other nations were adopted by U.S. citizens.

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (HR 2883) automatically confers U.S. citizenship on children adopted from abroad. The Act amends the Immigration and Nationality Act, granting citizenship to foreign-born children who are:

  • Under age 18
  • Lawfully admitted to the U.S. as permanent residents
  • Are in legal custody of at least one U.S. citizen

The bipartisan legislation eases the onerous paperwork burden on adoptive parents to naturalize their foreign-born children.

President Clinton signed the bill into law on October 30. The law will take effect 120 days after signing.

To learn more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, visit Thomas, a service of the Library of Congress at:

A PDF version of the bill is available at: 106_cong_bills&docid=f:h2883enr.txt.pdf

Answers to frequently asked questions about the bill are available from the Holt International Children's Services website at:

Another piece of legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (HR 2909), was signed into Public Law 106-279 by the President on October 6. It implements the 1993 Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, which is a worldwide legal framework intended to protect adoptive children and their families, and to streamline the international adoption process.

This legislation also combats abuses in the international adoption process, such as misportrayal of medical conditions, exorbitant fees, child kidnapping, baby smuggling, and coercion of birth mothers.

The Hague Convention has been signed by 40 other countries besides the United States. Under the treaty, each country designates a central authority to oversee intercountry adoptions and coordinate policy with other nations, which in the United States will be the State Department. The pact also promises stricter oversight of adoption agencies by requiring countries to establish accreditation standards.

"This significant legislation is intended to build some accountability into agencies that provide intercountry adoption services in the United States, while strengthening the hand of the Secretary of State in ensuring that U.S. adoption agencies engage in an ethical manner to find homes for children," said Sen. Jesse Helms, R-NC, a chief sponsor.

To learn more about the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000, visit Thomas, a service of the Library of Congress at:

A PDF version of the bill is available at: 106_cong_bills&docid=f:h2909enr.txt.pdf