Kuster, Lamborn Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Birth Mothers, Adoptive Parents, and Babies
Washington, September 19, 2023
Washington, D.C. – Today, Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO) introduced H.R. 5540, the In Good Standing Adoption Agencies Act of 2023, which requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to publish an annually updated list of adoption agencies in good standing in each state across the United States. The bill will also require HHS to conduct a report on any disciplinary actions that states are taking against licensed agencies, providing further transparency across the U.S.
Full text of the bill may be found here.
“Adoption can be the right choice for folks trying to start a family, but it can also be an intimidating and overwhelming process for birth mothers. We must do more to create proper oversight of adoption agencies to ensure mothers who choose adoption are not taken advantage of,” said Representative Kuster, former adoption attorney for 25 years. “I am proud to introduce this legislation today to ensure the Department of Health and Human Services maintains a public list of licensed adoption agencies to keep adoption safe and transparent for everyone involved.”
“Unlicensed, unethical adoption entities are currently taking advantage of vulnerable women, potential adoptive parents, and babies in need of safe homes,” said Representative Lamborn. “The In Good Standing Adoption Agencies Act of 2023 will provide women facing a crisis pregnancy and potential adoptive parents with safe, ethical, and sound adoption options in their communities and states.”
Currently, there is no federal list of safe and licensed adoption agencies in each state. Because of this, birth mothers do not have a way to see which adoption agencies are licensed by individual states across the nation and could encounter one of the many for-profit agencies that dishonestly manage adoption processes either by lying to birth mothers about the selected adoptive family or even by transporting the mother to a different state to deliver the baby. This puts everyone on both sides of the adoption process at an even greater risk for scams and potential safety risks, treating children more like commodities than humans.
Through the bill, birth mothers and adoptive families will have access to an annually updated list of adoption agencies that are licensed and not-for-profit in states across the United States. The Department of Health and Human Services will also have to provide information on whether any adoption agencies have been subject to disciplinary actions in the last year.
“It can be challenging to discern who the authorized, licensed adoption agencies are in each state,” said Ryan Hanlon, President and CEO of the National Council for Adoption. “Unfortunately, there are bad actors whose websites and online ads falsely claim they are licensed. This bipartisan legislation will allow for hopeful adoptive parents as well as pregnant parents seeking adoption information and support to determine which are licensed agencies in their state.”
“This legislation will create a valuable resource for those seeking a licensed, trustworthy adoption provider,” said Celeste Liversidge, Executive Director of Ethical Family Building. “Among other benefits, it will promote much-needed transparency and empower individuals and families to make fully-informed decisions when choosing an adoption agency.”