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Federal bill addresses age issues in international adoptions

When a family grows through international adoption, it's obviously a very exciting experience. Not only will the child have a loving and supportive home, but families can benefit from having a new face at the table.

Once the adoption is completed and the child arrives, parents must begin to address matters relating to health and education, much of which depends on a child's age. Although this is something that might be taken for granted in domestic adoptions, there can be discrepancies between a child's listed and actual age in international adoptions. Some cases simply don't have a paper trail to trace a child's birth date.

On a state level, courts can declare a child's age based on medical and developmental assessments. This can help ensure that children receive educational opportunities at the appropriate time. Unfortunately, it can be a very complex problem to get state age records to match federal records.

In order to ease issues with federal documentation, U.S. Congress recently passed a bill that would require federal agencies to accept the rulings made by judges about a child's age. At the time of reports, the bill was awaiting the president's signature.

By having state and federal age records align, a number of problems are remedied. In addition to proper grade placement in school, children can also avoid legal issues or accusations of identity fraud that could arise when government records don't match.

All of the legal tasks associated with adoption can seem overwhelming, especially because parents just want to take part in their new child's life. However, addressing all critical legal questions up front can save time and stress down the road for the whole family.

Source: USA Today, "Law aims to address adoptees' birth date problems," Kim Mulford, Jan. 14, 2014

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