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Congress proposes fix to birth date issues for adopted children

For many couples, there is nothing more exciting than the prospect of expanding their family through international adoption. However, this is not to say that the actual adoption process doesn't present its fair share of challenges. For instance, prospective parents often have to devote considerable time and energy to meeting with adoption agency officials, and making trips to visit their would-be children in their native countries.

While you would be inclined to think that the overwhelming number of these challenges, including possible legal issues, would be largely resolved once the adoption was finalized, this isn't always the case.

For instance, a large number of adoptive parents bring their children here to the U.S. only to discover that the newest additions to their homes are actually older or younger than they were originally informed and that their official government documents -- birth certificate, passport, Social Security card, etc. -- are inaccurate.  

This may seem like a mere inconvenience, but it can actually cause a host of problems for the adoptive child both now and further down the road.

That's because the current legal process is such that while parents can successfully petition state courts to have their adoptive child's birth date amended, federal agencies will not accept it. That, of course, means these adopted children will have two different birth dates listed on their official documents, something that can create major problems, including school placement issues and even allegations identity theft.    

Interestingly, this might soon change if President Obama decides to sign legislation currently sitting on his desk.

The legislation, called the Accuracy for Adoptees Act, was passed with bipartisan support back in October and would essentially mandate that federal agencies must use the birth dates decided by state courts for all adopted children.

"It's such a short act, and it makes so much sense, you would think, 'Gee, it's a no-brainer,'" said a lawyer with the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, an advocacy group supporting the proposed law. "You had kids coming in who were given birth dates two, three years different than what they physiologically were. It's a mess."

It remains to be seen whether the President will sign the bill into law. Stay tuned for updates ...

Those people with concerns about child custody, visitation rights, relocations or other important family law issues here in Texas should strongly consider speaking with an experienced attorney dedicated to protecting their best interests in negotiations and contested hearings.

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

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