Understanding Hague Convention Proceedings and Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) is an international agreement designed to establish safeguards that ensure intercountry adoptions protect and maintain the best interests of the child.

The agreement entered into force for the U.S. in April 2008, and it applies to adoptions between the U.S. and all other countries who have joined it. In this post, we’ll break down the key points of the Hague Convention proceedings and explain how they relate to child abduction.

 The Problem of Child Abduction and International Adoption

It helps to first understand the problem of child abduction in the context of international adoption. Macau and Hong Kong are both U.S. Hague Convention Treaty Partners, but most parts of China are not bound by these same laws and regulations. As a result, some American parents have unknowingly adopted Chinese babies taken from their parents and sold to orphanages. Unfortunately, China is far from being the only country that perpetuates this injustice.

Accredited or Approved Adoption Agencies

According to the U.S. Department of State, only adoption service providers who have been accredited or approved on a federal level may offer certain key adoption services for Convention adoptions. Adoptive parents seeking a child from a Convention country can rest assured that their adoption service provider has been evaluated by the Department of State’s designated Accrediting Entity: the Council on Accreditation. The Council evaluates agencies and individuals using uniform standards that guarantee professional and ethical practices.

Adoption Paperwork and Custody Certificates

All children adopted from Convention countries receive a Hague Adoption Certificate or a Hague Custody Certificate from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that issues the child’s immigrant visa. A U.S. consular officer issues this certificate only after determining that the adoption has met the requirements of both the Convention and the U.S. Intercountry Adoption Act. However, prior to this certification, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must determine that the child is eligible to immigrate to the U.S. and can acquire a visa to do so. These extensive screenings assure adoptive parents that the child is eligible to enter the U.S. and is not involved in any illegal or inhumane activities.

Transparent Proceedings

In another effort to prevent the exploitation of all parties involved in an international adoption, the Convention dictates that accredited and approved adoption service providers must itemize and disclose in writing all of the estimated fees and expenses relating to the adoption before the process begins. Adoption service providers are only able to issue additional charges for very specific, unforeseen circumstances. Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to lodge a complaint against any service provider who fails to closely follow the regulations outlined in the Convention.

For additional questions regarding the Hague Convention or other aspects of international adoption, our Maryland family law firm can offer personalized answers and advice for you and your family. Call us at 301.970.9286.

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