Wanting to improve international adoption for families in the U.S., Tiffany Ragels, a director from Oro Valley’s International Child Foundation, recently made a trip to meet and collaborate with the central authorities of Burundi.
International Child Foundation (ICF) is a licensed, non-profit organization, that first began in 2004. The organization is part of the Hague Convention, which is an international agreement that provides a legal process to help inform and prepare families for adoption by protecting their rights and those of the child. The Hague Convention was implemented into ICF in 2008.
In the past, ICF has worked with adoption agencies in Vietnam, Guatemala, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. ICF can no longer work with them, because the countries no longer allow international adoptions. Now, ICF works directly with Mexico and Burundi. Executive director, Jackie Semar, started ICF in order to provide personable services that help inform and support families through the adoption process.
“I had worked in social work and international adoption before and had strong opinions ethically on how adoption should be done,” said Semar, who added that the Hague Convention has played an integral part in helping with that. “It has made a tremendous difference and its been very positive in some respects as its better prepared families for adoptions.”
ICF offers services for domestic and international adoptions. The domestic adoption program provides information on living expenses for birthmothers, pregnancy tests, home studies and free counseling. As with domestic adoptions, ICF provides counseling and home studies for international adoptions. By being Hague accredited, ICF is qualified to write these reports for other countries. The organization emphasizes their accredited, high-quality services as well as their personable staff.
ICF is personable in how they continually help and support families through the adoption process. When Ragels traveled to Burundi, about a week ago, she brought a few families with her who are currently in the process of adopting from there.
“We encourage families to travel to the country before adopting the kids,” said Ragels. “While there I also met with the central authority. It was a collaboration to help build relationships and make things more transparent and make the process work smoother and better.”
Ragels met with the central authority of Burundi, which includes the administration of solidarity and justices from the court - all of which are involved in the process of international adoptions for their country. Ragels said the trip was very beneficial as both sides were able to voice concerns and give suggestion on how to improve the adoption process.
ICF’s office is located in Oro Valley at 10445 N. Oracle Road.