Hague Convention Could Restrict Intercountry Adoptions

Written by admin on October 5th, 2007 in Adoption.

 The Hague Convention comes into force in the U.S. in 2007/2008

For the U.S., adoption is a two-way street

As Newsweek wrote in “Sending Babies Abroad”, Nov. 13, 2006, not only do Americans welcome around 22,000 children a year from abroad, they also send their children to be adopted by families abroad, though in far lesser numbers: under 300 a year, adoption specialists estimate. (The State Department doesn’t track outgoing cases.) In 2005 Canadians adopted 102 U.S. children (a jump of over 30% from the previous year). Families in the Netherlands adopted 31 U.S. children in 2003, almost triple the number from just two years before.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that many of these children are black and biracial infants whose birthmothers believe they’ll face less prejudice abroad. “Birthmothers are being told race issues aren’t as prevalent in those countries as they are here, so they’re choosing to send their children to countries like Canada,” said Richard Fischer, publisher of Adoption Today magazine.


A Question of Finalizing When Canadians adopt abroad, many countries make the adoption legal in a court of that country (finalized abroad). But for certain countries — Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand — the adoption order is granted in a Canadian court in your home province (finalized in Canada).Both methods apply for U.S. adoptions; it depends on the state. Many states allow finalizing in Canada. Some states (only a few) call for adoptions to be finalized in a state court. And some states allow a choice — finalize here or there.

The process for U.S. adoption is a bit complicated in Ontario, which has two laws on adoption: the Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA, for adoptions finalized abroad) and the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA, for adoptions finalized in Ontario).

— If finalizing in-state, IAA applies and you must use an Ontario agency licensed for the U.S. Licenced agencies under IAA (with the country they serve) are at www.children.gov.on.ca/CS/en/programs/Adoption/Publications/IAAList.htm

— If finalizing in Ontario, CFSA applies, and you must use an Ontario licensee whose licence includes a term for the state in question. Licensees under CFSA are at www.children.gov.on.ca/CS/en/programs/Adoption/Publications/CFSALicenseesAgencies.htm

The situation for Ontarians could be further complicated if you apply to a lawyer or agency in one state, say non-IAA, and are then referred to a birth mother in another state requiring finalizing in that state, which would be an IAA placement. But no matter where finalizing happens, Ontarians must hire an Ontario agency/licensee as well as a U.S. agency/lawyer … possibly an expensive proposition. [ –Robin Hilborn, Family Helper, June 1, 2004]

Hague Convention could restrict U.S. adoptions

Fewer American children may be available to B.C. families, starting in 2006, according to the Vancouver Sun of May 7, 2005. While B.C. families have regularly been able to adopt children from the United States, new regulations could mean severe restrictions on whether American children are made available to Canadian families.

In 1994 the U.S. government signed an international agreement on adoption standards called the Hague Convention. Drafted in response to abuses that were taking place in intercountry adoption, the agreement set out several standards and regulations on adoptions and has been ratified by other countries, including Canada. In 2000 Congress passed the International Adoption Act, which incorporated the Hague Convention as law. The government wants trained, Hague-accredited agencies in place before enforcing the law.

The State Department published proposed regulations for accrediting U.S. international adoption agencies, as called for by the Hague Convention. By fall 2006 the State Department had identified the organizations which will accredit those agencies. Agencies are now being evaluated for accreditation. When they are approved, the State Department will announce their names and deposit the “Instrument of Ratification” with the Hague Central Office in the Netherlands. About four months later, the Hague Convention comes into force in the United States, in late 2007 or 2008.

Sunrise Adoption sees uncertainly in the new process

Provided that the final regulations are similar to those proposed now, Canadians will still be able to adopt from the U.S. after the Hague Convention comes into force in the U.S. Adoptions will be more regulated, slower and more expensive, but still possible, according to Sunrise Adoption in British Columbia. To follow how Hague rules will affect adoptions from the U.S. to Canada, see Sunrise’s coverage at “What’s happening with adoptions from the USA?“.

When the Hague rules apply, the contractual arrangements would be like this, according to Sunrise. In British Columbia, you would need to work with a licensed B.C. agency, which would contract with a (non-profit) “Hague Accredited Agency” in the U.S. to act as a consultant. In turn, the U.S. agency would be able to have a working relationship with certain for-profit corporations and attorneys. Because of the extra level of players, costs of adoption from the U.S. will go up.

Sunrise said that given the uncertainty in the adoption process once the Hague Convention comes into force, it will accept only a restricted number of applications for the U.S., and for only for a limited time. (Undated text; viewed May 24, 2007.)

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