What Is the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption?

Proud parents
gradyreese/Vetta/Getty Images

Question: What Is the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption?

Answer:

The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is an international agreement between participating countries on best adoption procedures. These procedures have basically two goals in mind:

  • The best interests of children are considered with each intercountry adoption.
  • The prevention of abduction, exploitation, sale, or trafficking of children.

    The guidelines and procedures that are set forth in the Hague Convention are also for the protection of birth families, as well as adoptive families. Part of the Convention's guidelines ensures that one Central Authority is in place in each country so that adoptive parents get the most accurate information regarding adoption. The Department of State is the U.S. Central Authority for the Convention. According to the State Department's Web site, implementing the principles of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is the State Department's top priority at this time. They hope that the U.S. will be a Hague Convention country by late 2007 or early 2008.

    As of February 26, 2008, there are 75 countries that have joined the Convention.

    History of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption

    • The Hague Convention on Private International Law has been around since 1893, but the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption was completed for comments by member countries on May 29, 1993.
    • The United States signed the Convention on March 31, 1994.
    • In 1998, President Clinton sent the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions to the U.S. Senate for ratification.
    • In 2000, both Houses of Congress passed bills for implementation of the Convention, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (the IAA), Public Law 106-279.
    • President Clinton signed the IAA into law on October 6, 2000.
    • The United States ratified the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption on December 12, 2007, in the Netherlands.
    • The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008.

    This means that private adoption service providers will need to be accredited, temporarily accredited, or approved, supervised by a provider that is accredited, temporarily accredited, or approved, in order to provide adoption services involving the U.S. and another Convention country. See an updated list on the Department of State Web site ​ of these agencies.

    Adoptions between Hague and non-Hague countries are not prohibited by the Hague Convention

    Top 10 Hague Convention Countries that U.S. Families Adopted from in 2005

    • China
    • Guatemala*
    • India
    • Colombia
    • Philippines
    • Mexico
    • Poland
    • Thailand
    • Brazil
    • Moldovia

    *Guatemala is a party to the Convention but is not following the standards of the Convention at this time.

    New developments -

    • Guatemala plans on being compliant by January 1, 2008, but will not work with any country that is not compliant.
    • On April 1, 2008, the Department of State advised that prospective adoptive parents not initiate an adoption with Guatemala.

    Top 10 Non-Hague Countries / Territories that U.S. Families Adopted from in 2005

    • Russia
    • South Korea
    • Ukraine
    • Kazakhstan
    • Ethiopia
    • Haiti
    • Liberia
    • Taiwan
    • Nigeria
    • Jamaica

    SOURCES:

    • The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption Process - U.S. Department of State
    • Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption and the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000: Background - U.S. Department of State
    • Guatemalan Adoptions and the Hague Convention