Human Rights Legislation Promoting the Rights of Unparented Children

Current Pending Legislation

To stay up-to-date on CAP-supported IA legislation and learn specific steps you can take to support human rights for unparented children, visit This web resource is a collaboration between CAP and a broad coalition of child human rights experts and organizations advocating for a child’s need to grow up in a loving, nurturing family.

The National Council For Adoption (NCFA), a leading adoption advocacy organization, identified CAP’s human rights reporting legislation and the Vulnerable Children and Families Act of 2017, among the top legislative goals they will advocate for in 2018. The article, NCFA’s Legislative and Policy Priorities for 2018, by Erin Bayles, Ryan Hanlon, and Chuck Johnson (Adoption Advocate, No. 115, January 2018) describes each piece of legislation and the reason behind NCFA’s support. The human rights reporting legislation is listed at the end of the article and VCF is listed near the middle. You can also find out more about each piece of legislation below.

Human Rights Reporting on Unparented Children

CAP Faculty Director Elizabeth Bartholet together with a coalition of international adoption (IA) advocates developed and proposed legislation that became S.1177 and H.R.2643. S.1177 was introduced on May 18, 2017, by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO). H.R.2643 was introduced by Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) on May 24, 2017, with co-sponsor Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).

This legislation is designed to change the nature of the Annual Report on Human Rights Violations issued by the U.S. Dept. of State. It requires that the Report include violations involving the deliberate denial of the right of unparented children to family, including by the shutdown of IA. CAP has been supported in this effort by the Arent Fox law firm which has provided extensive pro bono assistance in working with Congress, and the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice.

A one-page description of the legislation with endorsing organizations and this supporting report provide additional information explaining the need for this legislation.

The legislation is endorsed by CAP and other organizations working on behalf of unparented children including: American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (Debra E. Guston, President); America World Adoption (Brian Luwis, CEO); Center for Adoption Policy (Diane Kunz and Ann Reese, Co-Founders & Executive Directors); Love Grows Kids (Pete Leppanen, Kelly Dempsey and Chad Turner, Co- Directors); National Council For Adoption (Chuck Johnson, President & CEO); Nourished Hearts (Kim de Blecourt, President); Paulo Barrozo, Associate Professor of Law, Boston College Law School;  Saddleback Church Orphan Care Initiative (Elizabeth Styffe, Director); University of Pennsylvania Field Center for Children’s Research, Policy and Practice (Cassie Statuto Bevan, Child Welfare Fellow).

The following are Op-Eds and other articles by CAP and others expressing support for this legislation and its predecessor:

Vulnerable Children and Families Act (VCF Act)

The Vulnerable Children and Families Act (VCF Act), was reintroduced in the Senate May 18, 2017, by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) as S.1178.  It was reintroduced in the House by Representatives Kay Granger (R-TX) and Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), as H.R.2532.  CAP, along with several other organizations, worked to help bring this about and has formally endorsed the bill. The VCF Act recognizes that children have a fundamental human right to family.  It would ensure that our government works in partnership with other countries to provide every child the opportunity to grow up in a permanent, safe, nurturing, and loving family. It requires that international adoption to the United States becomes a more viable option for providing families for children in need. It defines the principle of subsidiarity as requiring that preference be given to providing children as early as possible with permanent nurturing parents.

The VCF Act is endorsed by CAP and other organizations working on behalf of unparented children including National Council for Adoption, American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, Saddleback Church, Bethany Christian Services, Nourished Hearts, Center for Adoption Policy, and Gladney Center for Adoption.

This bill is a successor to CHIFF.  For more information about the history of CHIFF, please see the Other Congressional Legislation section.