Hague Convention On Intercountry Adoption

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Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption

An international agreement that set norms and procedures to safeguard children involved in intercountry adoptions and to protect the interests of their birth and adoptive parents in the participating countries in the world. These safeguards are designed to discourage trafficking in children and to ensure that intercountry adoptions are made in the best interests of the children involved. The convention also provides for the recognition of adoptions that fall within its scope.

The convention was originally adopted and opened for signature at the conclusion of the seventeenth session of The Hague Conference on Private International Law on May?29, 1993. The process to create such an international agreement is lengthy. The United States signed the convention in 1994, after two years of garnering general support throughout the federal government as well as from the U.S. adoption service provider community. On June?11, 1998, President Clinton transmitted The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption to the Senate for ratification. In 1999, implementing legislation was introduced in both the Senate and House.

As of this writing, 35 countries, including the United States, have signed the convention. Twenty-four countries have ratified it and seven countries have acceded to it.

A U.S. central authority will mostly likely be located in the U.S. State Department and will need to be designated to coordinate the national implementation of the convention. Most matters handled by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service pertaining to international adoption will remain unchanged.

Experts say that a great deal of work will be required in order to ensure that U.S. adoption service providers are accredited under Hague convention standards. One or more appropriate accrediting bodies will need to be chosen to set and promulgate national uniform accreditation standards. These accrediting bodies will screen hundreds of applications from adoption service providers who seek accreditation in order to provide service in one or more of the convention countries as of the day the convention is in force for the U.S. Some experts say that U.S. families adopt more children from other countries than all the other countries combined, so the convention will play a significant role there.

Once Congress passes implementing legislation, the federal government will set up a regulatory regime and work on tasks needed to implement the convention throughout the U.S. An interagency group that is working on drafting implementing legations estimates that it could take two years from when implementing legislation is passed by Congress until the U.S. can deposit its instrument of ratification and open for business as a full party country.

Most observers believe the Convention will not be effective in the U.S. before mid-2001 or 2002. (See also INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION.)

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