How the Hague Adoption Convention Shapes Intercountry Adoptions
The United States welcomes more children through intercountry adoption each year than any other nation in the world. In fact, since 1999, more than 250,000 international adoptions have been finalized in the U.S. It can be a complicated process that requires representation of an attorney skilled in international adoptions, but the Hague Adoption Convention has formalized that process and gives the adopting parents peace of mind that the child is not exploited and has been protected.
Hague Adoption Convention
The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption is an international agreement to formalize international adoptions and protect the children involved. This convention is often referred to as the Hague Adoption Convention for short and not just the Hague Convention as to differentiate it from the pre-War World I series of treaties that were the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. The U.S. signed the Hague Adoption Convention in 1994.
How the Hague Convention Protects Children
The Convention requires that all participating countries establish a Central Authority. The Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority. These centralized authorities are in place to vet prospective adoptions and ensure that the child has not been abducted, sold or trafficked. An authority also ensures that a child is eligible for international adoption according to local laws and that the necessary measures have been taken to find a home for the child in its country of origin.
U.S. Convention Process
Not all adoption agencies are eligible to provide services related to an intercountry adoption in the U.S. An agency must either be accredited or approved on the federal level. This ensures the adopting parents that they are dealing with an Accrediting Entity or what is known as an Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity, Inc. or IAAME in the language of the convention. An Accrediting Entity is evaluated on an ongoing basis and is not in violation of any professional or ethical practices.
U.S. Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000
Adherence to the Hague Adoption Convention has been a complex and time-intensive endeavor for all participating countries. In the U.S., it was implemented through the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000. The IAA, for instance, implemented the rules and regulations for accrediting entities. It also requires the Department of State to verify that each intercountry adoption completed in the U.S. is in accordance with convention regulations and then issue a certificate from the Secretary of State.
Universal Accreditation Act of 2012
The Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 expanded federal regulation in the U.S. It specifically extended the oversight and ongoing monitoring of approved and accredited adoption services within the U.S. It also extended all safeguards defined by the convention to nonparticipating countries. This means that U.S. adoption agencies must oversee all international adoptions as convention adoptions, even if the child is from a country that did not agree to the convention.
Adoptions in general are often complex. Intercountry adoptions can be even more so. Parents adopting in New Jersey are encouraged to hire a New Jersey adoption lawyer to help them navigate the process. Even after you receive the child’s Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, there is still much to do. You must acquire U.S. citizenship for the child so that the child is not subject to deportation and will have access to all privileges with age, such college scholarships and the right to work and vote. Depending on the country of origin, you may also have post-adoption and post-placement reporting responsibilities.
Are You Considering an International Adoption?
If you are considering an international adoption and live in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, the Law Office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, is here to help. New Jersey adoption lawyer Donald C. Cofsky has personally overseen more than 1,500 adoption cases since joining the bar in 1974. You can contact us online or reach our Haddonfield, NJ office at (856) 429-5005, our Woodbury, New Jersey office at (856) 845-2555 or our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania office at (215) 563-2150.