ADOPTION: US ratifies Hague Convention

[WASHINGTON, D.C., 12 December 2007] - On 12 December the United States ratified the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption at a ceremony in The Hague. The United States is now a full member of the Hague Convention, and its provisions will govern intercountry adoptions between the United States and other Convention member countries from 1 April 2008.

The Convention establishes international norms and procedures for processing intercountry adoption cases involving other Hague Convention members. It mandates safeguards to protect the interests of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents. It also provides that member nations recognise adoptions that take place within other Hague Convention countries.

The ratification completed a process begun in 1994, when the United States signed the Convention after participating actively in its negotiation and adoption. In 2000, the Senate consented to ratification and Congress passed implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA). The Department of State, with the Department of Homeland Security, promulgated the regulations which govern the immigration and visa processes in a Hague case, developed the standards and procedures for the accreditation of adoption service providers, and took other actions deemed necessary to implement the Convention.

Beginning April 1, 2008, The Hague Convention will govern intercountry adoptions between the United States and other Convention countries. The major changes to the way intercountry adoptions are processed under the Hague Convention are:

  • The Department of State, designated as the "Central Authority" for the United States under the Hague Convention and the IAA, is responsible for ensuring that the Hague Convention and IAA requirements are followed.
  • Accrediting entities designated by the Department of State must accredit any U.S. adoption service providers that will handle Convention adoption cases.
  • The Department of State will maintain a centralised registry to track all adoption cases (both incoming and outgoing cases, in Hague Convention cases and in non-Convention cases), and to receive complaints and comments about accredited adoption service providers involved in Hague Convention cases.
  • Outgoing intercountry adoption cases from the United States to other Hague Convention countries, such as Canada or Mexico, must also comply with the Convention and the IAA.

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