What is the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption?

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When going through the adoption process, specifically an intercountry adoption, you will hear the term “The Hague” or “The Hague Convention.” These terms refer to the international agreement between over 100 countries regarding the international standards implemented to protect children during the adoption process. If you are adopting a child from a foreign country, it is important to know all the details of the Hague Convention an be fully informed of the specific requirements.

The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, established these international protocols in 1993. Not all countries adhere or signed the convention, therefore, it is important to understand the benefits you receive when adopting from a convention country. The United States signed the convention in 1994. The goal of the convention is to establish safeguards “to make sure that all intercountry adoptions are in the best interests of the child and respects their human rights [and] aim to prevent the abduction, sale of, or trafficking in children.”

When does the Hague Convention apply? The convention only applies to those countries who have voluntary signed and agreed to the terms of the convention. These are known as Hague countries. Further, the convention applies in cases of adoption by U.S. citizens of children who are citizens of a convention country.

When is a child eligible for adoption under the Convention? The convention requires that evidence show that the child, seeking to be adopted by a foreign couple, could not be found a proper home placement in their own country and therefore, it is in their best interest to be adopted and taken to the foreign country.

Third Party Involvement. Under the Hague Convention, the adoption must implement the services and seek approval from many different organizations. For instance, the only adoption servicers allowed to assist in a convention adoption are those who have been accredited or approved by the Department of State’s Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity. The accreditation process is also uniform throughout the convention countries. The central authorities within your country and the child’s country are also two groups you will exchange significant contact with. The Central Authority in the United States is the Department of State. Another organization you will need to work with during your adoption process is the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to receive a visa for the adopted child. The visas issued from convention countries to adoptees are IH-3 and IH-4. The Embassy is also required to follow certain guidelines to ensure the convention protocol has been followed for the adoption. Finally, you must also file many documents with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. These documents may include: Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country and Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. The application must be filed and approved prior to filing your petition.

Eligibility to Adopt. Eligibility comes in two forms, eligibility of the parents and eligibility of the child. Under the Hague Convention, a child must be classified as a Convention Adoptee to be eligible. This entails: the child being under the age of 16 when the application is filed by the parents, is a resident of a convention country, and the necessary consents for adoption of child were provided to the Central Authority for the country. For parents wishing to adopt to be eligible, they must be residing in the U.S. as citizens; and if married, both spouses must consent to the adoption, but if you are single you must be at least 25 years old.

There are many more intricate details regarding the Hague Convention protocols that should be discussed with your accredited adoption agency or a Family Law Attorney. The agencies are not able to provide any legal advice to you during the process, so it may be in your best interest to also obtain advice from a Family Law Attorney to ensure your adoption process goes smoothly.

Speaking to an attorney at our Orlando office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 407-512-0887 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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