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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Intercountry Adoption


Interview
Ambassador Susan S. Jacobs
Ambassador Special Advisor for Children's Issues 
Christine James-Brown, President & CEO, Child Welfare League of America; Richard Klarberg, President & CEO, Council on Accreditation
Washington, DC
November 20, 2012

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This video is available on YouTube with closed captions.

MS. BENTON: Hello. I’m Cheryl Benton, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Public Affairs, and I’d like to welcome you to Conversations with America.

Today, we are talking about inter-country adoption. Inter-country adoption is an important way to find homes for children who otherwise will remain in institutional care. In our conversation, we’ll touch on some pressing issues, such as how to choose an adoption service provider and what to expect before beginning the adoption process. We will address the challenges and opportunities to improve the inter-country adoption process, and how the role of accreditation promotes best practices.

We are privileged to have with us Ambassador Susan Jacobs, Special Advisor for Children’s Issue. Also joining us are Richard Klarberg, President and CEO of the Council on Accreditation, and Chris James-Brown, President and CEO of the Child Welfare League of America.

Thank you all so much for participating in this program.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: It’s a pleasure to be here.

MS. BENTON: Susan, could you please start us off by talking about your role as Special Advisor on this very important issue? And then I’d like to go to Chris and Richard and get your input on how your organizations work in this process.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Great, thanks, Cheryl. It’s a pleasure to be here with Chris and Richard today, who are friends of longstanding now. When Secretary Clinton appointed me to this position, she asked me to focus on ensuring that more countries join the Hague Convention on Adoptions because it presents the best way to complete a safe, ethical adoption. And so that is what we’ve been doing. We have been talking about best practices throughout the world and here in the United States. And we do it with our partners like CWLA and COA.

MS. BENTON: So how does your organization fit into this, and what role do you see that you have?

MS. JAMES-BROWN: So, the Child Welfare League – CWLA – of America – and we are proud to have worked for so long with COA and for, more recently but intensely, with you, Susan. We have been around for close to a hundred years, and our role is to establish the bar for advocacy purposes, for training purposes, around what are best practices in this country with respect to addressing the needs of vulnerable children and families.

So we established standards of excellence that are aspirational, long-term – where do we need to go in terms of serving our children, how can we make certain the services are high quality, that they protect children and that they encourage the involvement of families and communities? And we do this in a variety of ways, and we depend on our great partner, COA, which we, along with the Alliance for Children and Families, founded several years ago as the accrediting body for organizations in this community. And we’ve been working together in wonderful ways for many, many years.

MS. BENTON: Great. Good. Tell us about your organization and how you fit into this whole thing.

MR. KLARBERG: Well, the Council on Accreditation, COA, is a non-profit organization. And we accredit, validate, the quality of more than 2,000 programs, organizations, across America and throughout North America. We’ve been working in the area of inter-country adoption for some thirty years. But most recently with the passage of the Intercountry Adoption Act, we have been designated by the Department of State as the national accrediting entity for programs involved with bringing children to this country from Hague – other – from Hague countries.

And so we currently accredit some 190 adoption service providers who are working in the field to bring children here and give them a safe and loving home.

MS. BENTON: Very good. Susan, what exactly is accreditation, and what are the problems in inter-country adoption that accreditation addresses?

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Accreditation is a process that COA does for us that monitors what an agency is doing. It checks to make sure that they meet the standards of practice, that they have the personnel that can process adoptions, and that everything they’re doing is up to the standards that have been set in the Intercountry Adoption Act for Hague adoptions.

The problem is that there are countries that are not our partners in Hague, and they don’t need to meet these same standards. So what we are working on now is legislation called the Universal Accreditation Act that will mean that any adoption service provider doing inter-country adoptions must meet the same standards as if they were working in a Hague country.

MS. BENTON: That seems to be that should be the minimum standard.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Well, it’s a high bar.

MS. BENTON: Is it?

AMBASSADOR JACBOS: And that’s why we rely on CWLA and on COA to make sure that agencies are able to meet this standard. And if they can’t – I mean, Richard can tell you they can lose their accreditation.

MR. KLARBERG: Well, as a matter of fact, we, as of earlier this week, rescinded the accreditation of an adoption service provider –

MS. BENTON: Okay.

MR. KLARBERG: -- because they were not fulfilling their obligations. And what’s – as Susan said, what’s tricky is that we have two paths. We have the Hague accreditation path, and then we have the other path comprised of organizations that are working in countries that are not signatories to the Hague Convention. The majority of the complaints that we receive through a complaint registry that the Department of State has established relate to activities in non-Hague countries.

MS. BENTON: Okay.

MR. KLARBERG: So – because these are highly unregulated, Ethiopia being the prime example of that. And we’re struggling at COA to find ways to balance the work that an organization is doing, an adoption service provider, in a Hague environment as opposed to a non-Hague environment.

MS. BENTON: Got you. Got you.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: And it really shouldn’t be whether or not an organization is from a country that is a member of Hague, that the accreditation is in place. The accreditation really protects the families, and it protects the children.

MS. BENTON: Right.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: And it is an independent process for making sure, as Richard knows, that the organizations are doing what they need to do with respect to how they clarify the parental role. Is the parent around? Is the parent dead? Is the parent missing? All of the things that need to be done are certified through this accreditation process. And it’s important to do that for – as it relates to any job, regardless of the organization that they happened to be involved with at the time that an adoption is being considered.

MS. BENTON: I’m curious. We heard the word, “best practices.” What exactly does that mean, and is that universal, or is it a set of guidelines, a set of rules?

MS. JAMES-BROWN: Well, the best practices really are based usually on experience and on research about what is the best way to complete a required service.

MS. BENTON: Okay.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: And best practices are partly defined within law. They’re partly defined by organizations like COA. They’re partly defined by the Child Welfare League of America. But they clarify, based on the best information available, what’s the best way to serve children and families. And so – and they differ –

MS. BENTON: Okay.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: -- from program area to program area. So there’s special practices as it relates to the – to adoption. There are other kinds of best practices related to foster care and to other services.

MS. BENTON: Got you.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: And then there are practices based on whether you’re dealing with children that are going from this country to another country, or from another country to this country, and then there are practices around the whole, I guess, organizational management --

MR. KLARBERG: Right.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: -- of an organization.

MR. KLARBERG: One of the things that we’re seeing now – several years ago, inter-country adoption, there may have been 22,000, 23,000 children coming to this country from other countries. That number has dramatically decreased. And beyond that, beyond the decrease, we’re seeing that the majority of the children, the vast majority of the children who are being adopted by American families, those children have special needs. And one of the challenges is to make certain that a family here understands and is well trained to deal with that child and recognizes the burden that will be placed on them as a result.

It’s amazing that there are so many families in this country who have the courage and the social willingness to take on a responsibility like that. The issue really is: Are they being adequately trained and prepared to do that? And we’re working to see to it that, through accreditation, agencies here are appropriately training these families.

MS. BENTON: And do you find that same challenge in your work around the world?

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Oh, it’s definitely true that the numbers have gone down, although I would argue that it isn’t the number, it’s how the adoptions are being done. And if they are being done in a transparent, ethical manner, with full disclosure of everything – and that means the parents know about the child, but the country that is giving up its children knows about the family and has confidence that the agency is representing the facts of the case properly.

I think Americans are amazing. I think they are the most open, loving people in the world because they really are open to these challenges. And it’s not cheap.

MR. KLARBERG: No. (Laughter.)

MS. BENTON: Oh, I would imagine that it would be.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Adoption is expensive. And I do think, though, that social policies in the United States support adoption. There is a credit, and I hope it will be renewed, if it hasn’t been, for parents who adopt from overseas or from the United States.

MR. KLARBERG: And we think that universal accreditation – in other words, accrediting organizations here who are bringing children to this country from non-Hague countries – will actually increase the number of children who will be able to be adopted, because the country of origin will have confidence that their children will be appropriately protected. So it will have a very, very – I think a significant impact on the ability of American families to adopt children.

MS. BENTON: I’m just curious, because you were talking about how you have to prepare the family, and I guess the compassion that families have when they say, “I’m going to take on that kind of a challenge” --

MS. JAMES-BROWN: But sometimes that’s not enough. You can’t --

MS. BENTON: Well, of course.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: It’s important, and I agree that we are in a remarkable country with respect to the willingness of people to take on these challenges. But they need to know exactly what the challenges are.

MS. BENTON: Yeah.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: They need to have services and support so that they can appropriately respond to those challenges.

MS. BENTON: Right.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: And accreditation looks at all of that – looks at whether or not the organization that is managing the whole process is doing everything that it needs to do to support the parents; to make sure that the parents are clear about what to expect when that child arrives; to make sure that you’re not, heaven forbid, sending a child back because of a failed adoption.

There are so many reasons that up front we need to put the time in. It’s kind of like painting a room: Up front you need to put the time into making sure that everything happens absolutely correctly, because the trauma on a child of our doing this incorrectly is dramatic. And there’s research now that shows that trauma lasts over the lifetime of the child. It’s not a trauma and then it’s over; that child can be traumatized forever.

MR. KLARBERG: The Hague Convention -- I think it’s important to note, the Hague Convention has three goals: protect the rights of the child in the country of origin, his or her country of origin; protect the rights of that child’s biological families, make certain that the child is not being bought or is not being brought here under suspicious reasons; and also, to protect the rights of American families who seek to adopt.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: And I think that that’s the most important thing, that the Hague process protects everyone involved in adoption.

MS. BENTON: Got you. Got you.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: And without that, it makes us a little bit nervous.

MS. BENTON: Well, I would think so, because you don’t – I mean, the children are the most vulnerable population in the whole world.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Absolutely.

MS. BENTON: And you have to just make all of those extra efforts to protect them.

MR. KLARBERG: Sure. And the goal of the Hague Convention is primarily to find a permanent, safe and healthy home for that child in his or her own country --

MS. BENTON: First. Yeah, right.

MR. KLARBERG: -- first. It’s only when that is not feasible that that child should be able to be adopted by an American family or a family in any other country. So the goal is not to be disruptive, it is really to mend and to give that child an opportunity. But we realize that in many countries, there just is a – because of economic reasons or social reasons it’s not feasible. But that should be the first goal.

MS. BENTON: So how do you think universal accreditation of U.S. adoption service providers will improve the adoption experience for families adopting in non-Hague countries?

AMBASSADOR JACBOBS: Everyone will have to follow the same rules.

MS. BENTON: Okay. Okay.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: There will be no advantage to not being accredited.

MS. BENTON: Okay. No benefits, no rewards that --

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: And it means no benefits, no rewards, and it means that everybody involved in the process is following the same high standards. And that’s really what’s important.

MS. BENTON: So do you have countries who challenge that, who really don’t want to be in compliance? What happens there?

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: I don’t think they don’t want to be in compliance. I think sometimes it’s hard.

MS. BENTON: They can’t.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: They might come from systems that are challenged, that don’t have an infrastructure, and that’s one thing that we want to help them build.

MS. BENTON: Got you.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: We want them to have a good child protection system. And when you phrase it like that, I think they really are far more willing to work with you. If you say, “You need to join Hague so we can adopt your kids,” that’s not going to work. They need a child protection system that protects their children. They need to document how children come into care. They need to monitor what happens to them if they have to stay in an institution. And we need to be working with them through all the programs that we do through USAID to help them develop the systems of law and protections that will look out for the children.

MR. KLARBERG: I can tell you that Susan and the Department of State have taken an incredible leadership role in working with countries to help them get up to speed so that they have the internal processes to protect the rights of the children from that country and the rights of the families from that country. It can be a daunting task at times.

What we have learned from State is that children are not a commodity. Children are special, little people. And what State is doing – and I think that it flies under the radar – is actually providing a dramatic service to so many of these countries in helping them create an infrastructure to protect the rights of their children.

MS. BENTON: Very good. So what impact does accreditation of adoption service providers working with Hague Adoption Convention cases have on adoptions in non-Hague countries? Why don’t we talk around this a little bit?

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Well, it’s interesting to note that most – a majority of the adoptions in the United States are still to non-Hague countries.

MS. BENTON: Oh, really?

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Well, it’s Russia, Ethiopia. Before it was Vietnam, Cambodia. But we are willing to not do adoptions in countries where we believe that children are being sold as a commodity.

MS. BENTON: Right.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: I mean, that is – it’s not acceptable, and we’re not going to work with those countries. So I think – I appreciate all those kind words from Richard, because we have been working really hard on this. We have been working with Vietnam and Cambodia and Guatemala and any country that shows an interest in developing a system that will protect their children. We’re also working with a number of countries in the Southern cone of Africa now with really great success, because they want to do this and I think that it’s in their interest.

There was a policy forum in Africa in June where they were talking about adoption, and there are really harsh feelings about it, because they feel that Westerners are moving in and stealing their children.

MS. BENTON: Just taking their kids.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: And you know what? They can stop that. All they need are rules and regulations, and to make sure everybody is Hague-accredited, and that they are taking care – it’s up to them. They don’t need to do adoptions. What they need to do is protect their kids.

MS. BENTON: Right. I want to get you in on this because –

MS. JAMES-BROWN: And I was just going to underscore that, because I think that what will happen is that the accreditation process and the – making it universal will drive an increased focus on the desire for best practice, and it will give them an infrastructure to do it.

MS. BENTON: Right.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: And many of these countries don’t have the infrastructure of how to do it, and the process will give them that infrastructure. So I think, across the board, the universal approach will kind of pull everyone up and will give more children the opportunity to be safely protected in the whole adoption process.

MS. BENTON: Right. So that’s what you say, you want to drive that negative element out and to make sure these kids are protected.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: And if I could add one more thing --

MS. BENTON: Sure.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: -- that we are doing: We are initiating a process called PAIR, P-A-I-R – that stands for Pre-Adoption Immigration Review – in countries that are not members of the Hague Convention. And what we will do is process cases under a Hague regime.

MS. BENTON: Okay. Okay.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: So we will do all our investigations at the beginning of the process to make sure that the child is an orphan and adoptable under our laws, and that all the rules and regulations have been properly followed, that best practices are in place.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: And we haven’t focused on that a lot. And you know your – the details of your accreditation process much better, but the kinds of things that we’re protecting from is making sure that the organization has gone through a process to ensure that that child, in fact, has lost both parents --

MS. BENTON: Got you.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: -- and that there’s no one else that wants to care for that child. And that’s a very basic, fundamental thing. Because what happens – and you can talk about a situation when it occurs – if a child is adopted, with everyone thinking they’re doing the right thing, and then later on, a year later, you find out that there’s a parent --

MS. BENTON: There’s some parent, yes.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: -- who’s been looking for that child. Then what’s in the best interests of the child?

MS. BENTON: Yeah. Then what do you do, right?

MS. JAMES-BROWN: They send the child back. Then you really have a problem.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: We have real cases like that.

MS. BENTON: Oh, really?

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: The knock on the door: “That’s my child that you think you adopted five years ago, who was stolen from me.” I mean, these are horrible, awful cases.

MS. BENTON: Right.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: And neither of them wants --

MS. BENTON: Right, nobody wants --

MR. KLARBERG: One of the other ways that Susan and the Department of State have been so supportive and helpful in this: Accredited organizations will have programs both in Hague countries and in non-Hague countries.

MS. BENTON: Okay. Okay.

MR. KLARBERG: When we hear of an incident that takes place in a non-Hague country by a Hague-accredited organization here, State has given us the authority to review that practice. So we have sent out a message to accredited organizations here that you can’t duck the regulations by going to a non-Hague country.

And we’ve done this because State has pointed out that under these regulations – and 9635(a) – (laughter) – which talks about ethical practice – an organization can’t be ethical if they are performing unethically, even in a non-Hague-related country. So we are able, to some extent, stem the tide of illegal adoptions – to some extent. Universal accreditation will go the next mile to doing that.

MS. BENTON: Before we get into our viewer questions, I did have one other question though. When you see a situation like the earthquake in Haiti, is it different for a disaster that happens in a country? Is it different for what happens for those kids? Or is it just the same universality of the accreditation, et cetera?

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: What I think happens is a great outpouring from Americans to want to do something to help these children.

MS. BENTON: Yeah. Yes, exactly.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: And we have to figure out – and you can’t do it when everything is falling apart, when there are no structures or anything else. Some children may have been removed from Haiti who were not orphans. And we need to be very careful about the children that we remove from a country, I think no matter what the circumstances. I think sometimes it would be better to find them a safe haven within the country and care for them, and then figure out if some of those children are adoptable and if there is a way to speed up the process for those particular children.

MS. BENTON: And I wasn’t trying to imply that’s that what happened.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: No, no, the --

MS. BENTON: I was just curious.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: But it does happen. And Richard – I was fresh on the job and I was talking to Richard, and he said, oh, you need to call someone who knows all about how to do this, and it was a wonderful nun who lives in the --

MR. KLARBERG: Sister Linda (ph).

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: -- Pittsburgh area who was incredibly helpful.

MS. BENTON: My hometown. (Laughter.)

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: And I said this is what we need to do, and then she did it.

MS. BENTON: That’s great.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: But it does demonstrate that balance that the good organization is always try to find between the best interests of the child – get the child to a safe, permanent environment versus making sure that you’re not taking that child away from what they know, their parents, and their – so there’s always that balance that has to be looked at.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Part of what we see overseas is that in some countries, orphanages are not for orphans. They are a place for parents to have their children fed and clothed and educated, but they’re not orphans, and the parents haven’t given up their parental rights, nor have their rights been severed. So they are there – the kids are there. They visit with their families, the parents come and visit them, and they’re not up for adoption, so to speak.

MS. BENTON: Right, I’m glad you made that point. That’s a great point.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: And we have to be very careful of that. And what we did find out is when we closed adoptions in a number of countries, the orphanages emptied out.

MS. BENTON: Really? Interesting.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: There were suddenly fewer children who were --

MS. BENTON: Really need it.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: They were not put there, they were not left there. And so it’s – we need to make sure who these children are and what their needs are, and then try to help them that way.

MR. KLARBERG: We should also understand that for many of these orphanages, their lifeblood is support from American adoption service providers that make contributions, that keep these orphanages afloat, help these children get food and clothing and learn to read. And these are great organizations here. Sure, there are bad guys --

MS. BENTON: Absolutely.

MR. KLARBERG: -- but the good guys far outnumber the bad guys. And we want to make certain that the good guys stay in business and that the bad guys do something else – sell used cars. (Laughter.) Sell used cars.

MS. BENTON: And see how long that lasts. (Laughter.)

MR. KLARBERG: Don’t bring children into our country.

MS. BENTON: That’s right. Yeah. I wanted to go to some of our viewer questions, which we have received online about today’s topic. Jacqueline Z (ph), in Maine, writes: “With fraudulent child trafficking adoption agencies growing globally, how will the U.S. protect its citizens and deceived, exploited parents?” That’s a good question.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Well, it is a good question, but I’m not sure that it’s accurate.

MS. BENTON: Okay.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: I think that most American adoption service providers are in business to protect children and to find them permanent, loving families. I think that the bad actors can be driven out of business by COA through the review process –

MS. BENTON: There you go.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: -- especially when we have universal accreditation. It’s going to be very hard to do that. And when we travel overseas and talk with adoption service providers, we talk to them about the ethics of what they’re doing, and we also talk to foreign government officials about how they can better protect children.

It’s interesting to note, though, that in the United States, trafficking is either for prostitution or for labor. And what happens with children is still wrong if they’re being bought and sold, but we don’t call that trafficking. It's still a crime.

MS. BENTON: Sure.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: And it’s still wrong. But it’s not trafficking.

MS. BENTON: Got you.

MR. KLARBERG: But the accreditation process, even without it being universal at this point, has allowed COA, through the auspices of State, to require agencies here to obtain appropriate documentation about a child so that the families here have some level of assurance that this child was not trafficked – they were not bought or abducted, but this child was appropriately put up for adoption.

And so, in many ways, the Department of State, as is appropriate, has been shaping foreign policy by requiring these organizations here to obtain information and documentation from overseas. So it’s a very subtle shift that’s taking place, and we’re putting a greater burden on adoption service providers in the United States to determine that that child can come here.

MS. BENTON: Yes, legitimately.

MR. KLARBERG: Legitimately.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: But in the Hague process, you don’t get to pick a child.

MS. BENTON: Okay.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: The central authority – the Department of State, for example, is the central authority in the United States – we work with the central authorities of other countries who are parties to the convention in figuring out which parents will be best for which child. How will this child have a really good life? The Secretary once said, “Every child deserves a champion.” And so our job is to find a champion for that child who needs one.

MS. BENTON: That’s great. We have another question from Maciej, in Washington, D.C. Chris, this might be a good one for you: “What steps are NGOs/nonprofits taking to influence or recommend new policies to government agencies like the State Department to ensure a more efficient system of cross-border adoption?”

MS. JAMES-BROWN: And I think that that is a good question. And it’s advocacy groups that can work with – in partnership, often – with Congress and their staff to develop good policies that will provide that kind of protection. But the other piece of it, too, is the information piece, making sure people understand inter-country adoption and what should happen, what shouldn’t happen, because there are many people who just don’t understand it, don’t even know what’s going on.

MS. BENTON: They don’t know what’s going on. That’s right.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: They see some movie star bring a child back and don’t understand the whole context for it. So part of it is information. The other part is really looking at good laws that need to be updated, as is the case now, with saying we need to go from just the Hague countries to everyone.

MS. BENTON: Right, right.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: Because to the extent that you only focus on the Hague countries, you’re letting the others really go a little bit farther than they might go.

MS. BENTON: That’s right. Yeah. That’s true.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: So you really do have to pull them in and make it universal.

MR. KLARBERG: The other aspect of this is that the adoption service community has to take responsibility also. They have to take responsibility. As they say in the New York City subways, if you see something, say something.

MS. BENTON: Say something – got you.

MR. KLARBERG: They have to begin to do a better job of self-monitoring because when a – something untoward happens, everyone is impacted.

MS. BENTON: That’s right. That’s right.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: And most of the agencies are good, but I think Richard’s point is so important, because they have to feel that they want their sector to be the most efficient, the most effective sector. And so they need to kind of squeeze out those that are not doing what they should be doing. So they need to look at it in that way and not say, well, we need to protect our sector if anything bad is happening.

MS. BENTON: What about the kids?

MS. JAMES-BROWN: Yeah.

MS. BENTON: Right.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Well, it is.

MS. BENTON: It’s all about the kids.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: It’s all about the kids, but it’s also about protecting birth parents --

MS. BENTON: Yes.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: -- and the American families who are adopting a child, because they should not be caught up in something that is not ethical.

MS. BENTON: Yes, exactly.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: It’s just – it’s wrong.

MS. BENTON: Yeah, it is.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: This is how it would work: I mean, we are very lucky at State that we have partners like Chris and Richard, and also the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service and really good allies on the Hill that are working with us to promote the ethics of the process.

And I know that people think that adoptions take too long – inter-country adoptions – but the goal isn’t necessarily speed. The goal is to make sure that it’s an ethical process. I don’t believe that children should remain in institutions. I think they’re horrible places. But we do have to make sure that the child who’s being adopted is, in fact, adoptable –

MS. BENTON: Right.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: -- that there are no parents or kin that are willing to take care of this child. They need to be given the opportunity to step forward.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: And that it’s not going to break down after the fact.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Oh, absolutely. Right.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: And have that torn back.

MS. BENTON: It’s like the soup to nuts – you start it in the beginning, then you see it all the way through.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Right.

MS. BENTON: Very good. Well, this conversation has flown by pretty quickly and – (laughter) – I know, I thought we had at least another two to three hours. I really wanted to thank you, Chris, for joining us, and Richard, and of course Ambassador Jacobs.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Thanks. Sure.

MS. BENTON: Thank you so much. This is, like, our second time at this radio.

MS. JAMES-BROWN: It is. We love being with you.

MS. BENTON: And I love having you with me. (Laughter.) So I’d like to thank each of you for joining us and for sharing the work and knowledge that you have.

And I’d like to also thank each of you for joining us today. We hope the Conversations with America will continue to inform citizens about the Administration’s efforts to address the challenges of the 21st century. We look forward to engaging with you again very soon.

Thank you so much.



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