You heard us talk about accreditation and re-accreditation heavily in the last year. I am sure our regular readers never thought they would hear those words uttered out of my mouth ever again. But as of May 17th a significant number of agencies had their accreditations expire. The families with those agencies were, for the most part, clueless as to what the big deal was all about. They knew that those of us with unaccredited agencies were stuck. There was a general sense of, "oh it won't happen to us. They'll get it fixed and we'll get our accreditations right away." At least that is the opinion of this particular writer. I am very well aware that there are exceptions to the norm and there are some of you who were very well aware of what was going on and I am very sorry it is now happening to you.
The issue the May 17th agencies face is yet another new law implemented by the Russian Government. This law states that all non-profit organizations working in Russia must be registered with the Ministry of Justice as an NGO (non-governmental organization.) After the agencies are registered as an NGO they can go through the process of receiving accreditations. This delays the accreditation process by a few months. So most agencies aren't expecting to receive their accreditation until late July or August.
Sure you heard me complain about the wait, the process and there was a little bit of the why me thrown in there, but these types of things are coming up with the families in the same situation we were in last year. To all of you I will say that I know exactly how you are feeling. For those of you stuck in between your trips I really know how you are feeling. Don't believe me? Read THIS
post. I've been there.
But despite all of the heartache we have been through in the last 12 months I am a defender of the accreditation process. Don't hate me. I have very good reasons for believing the accreditation process is a good thing. I will make one caveat here. I don't agree with the long delays for the reaccreditation of agencies.
So why do I defend accreditation? First a little background on accreditation and its reasoning.
The accreditation process was started in 2000. It was designed as a way for the Russian government to keep tabs on the children placed in foreign homes through post-placement reports. Post-placement reports are a legal requirement in the United States for all families adopting domestically
internationally. Russia had no control over post-placement reports and could not ensure the welfare of the children. The US didn't care about the welfare of the children since they have never instituted a post-placement requirement for internationally adopted children. And have yet to do so to this day.
Prior to accreditation agencies may have found that it was unnecessary for parents to file post-placement reports. The same could be said for the families themselves. The whole mentality of, "I have mine, I don't care about you." Needless to say the Russians thought something should be done. Thus Accreditation.
The original idea is that no agency could do work in Russia without accreditation. Well regions tend to interpret the laws as they see fit. So agencies started "umbrellaing" under accredited agencies. Families signed up with XYZ agency, but their paperwork said ABC Agency. The Russians overlooked this and also allowed independent adoptions to take place. Again, no recourse over these "umbrellaed" agencies or the independents. However if a family that worked with an accredited agency regretted to file their post placement reports the Russian government had the power to revoke their accreditation, thus resulting in that agency not being allowed to work in Russia.
The next logical question would be; why are post-placement reports important? The rule is that the social worker that wrote your original home study will be the one to write the post placement report. The social worker has to physically see the child and ensure that child's well being then write the report. This is an impartial 3rd party essentially ensuring that you are fulfilling your end of the "you are approved to parent" bargain. That whole 171-H permit to be a parent thing.
Well... since 1996 12 Russian children have died at the hands of their adoptive parents. To read more about each case HERE
(**this writer does not agree with the majority of work the Bastardette writes in her blog. The information about these children serves as a reference only**) If you break that list down to its most basic information it shows that of the 12 children on the list 2 were adopted through accredited agencies, 2 were adopted through an unknown agency, 1 was independent and 7 were adopted through agencies that were not
accredited. (at least I don't believe they were, they are not now) The list also show that of the 12, 7 children were due for their first post-placement report (due at 6 months from court.) The logical conclusion is that the deaths of these children could have been prevented if a social worker had been at the families homes to check on the children.
So back to the original question. Why am I in favor of the accreditation process? The process allows for only accredited agencies to perform adoption in Russia. The Russian government then has recourse with the agencies to ensure post-placement reports are done on time. The agency is then under added pressure to make sure the families complete the post-placement reports. Agencies often write clauses into their contracts giving them recourse with the families.
To summarize a very long and drawn out explanation; the Russians are just trying to ensure the welfare of their children. How can we fault them for that. If you ask me they are doing what is in the best interest of the children. But if you ask me the Russian government could really use an efficiency expert to assist them with streamlining the process.
I do have much more to say on this particular subject and the subject of Russian adoption in general. So stay tuned.