New U.S. Procedures Intended To Help Intercountry Adoption

Washington - Taking another step toward ratifying the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions, the United States announced that November 17 is the deadline for potential adoption service providers to submit their accreditation applications to designated agencies.

The 1993 Hague Convention sets minimum international standards and procedures for adoptions that occur between implementing countries. It seeks to ensure that such intercountry adoptions are made in the best interests of the child and aims to prevent abuses such as abductions, sale or trafficking in children, as well as the exploitation of birth parents and adoptive parents.

To date 68 countries have ratified the convention or acceded to it. The United States signed the pact in 1994 and hopes to ratify it by 2007.

In 2005 Americans adopted nearly 23,000 children from countries around the world, with more than half coming from countries that are parties to the Hague Convention, according to the State Department.

A State Department notice published in the October 5 Federal Register states that in order to be accredited or approved to handle Hague Convention adoptions at the time the convention enters into force for the United States, an agency or a person must submit an application and required fees to an accrediting entity on or before the “transitional application deadline” (TAD) of November 17.

In July the State Department designated two accrediting entities - the Council on Accreditation (COA) and the Colorado Department of Human Services.

This action followed the publication in February of the final outline of standards and procedures these entities must follow in accrediting nonprofit agencies or other providers to handle Hague adoptions. (See related article.)

The State Department announced on October 4 the approval of fees that the two accrediting entities will charge adoption service providers.

The establishment of the transitional application deadline is “a significant achievement and brings the United States closer to its goal of ratifying the Hague Adoption Convention in 2007,” according to an October 5 State Department media note. “Once the Convention enters into force for the United States, prospective adoptive parents adopting a child from a Convention country will have assurances that they and the children they are adopting have the protections and safeguards provided by the Hague Convention.”

The full text of the Federal Register notice, which provides contact information for the accrediting entities, is available on the Government Printing Office Web site.

Additional information about international adoption is available on the State Department Web site, as is the full text of the announcement. The Web site also offers information on the Hague Convention