New Developments with Intercountry Adoptions

Approximately 20,000 intercountry adoptions are completed every year in the United States. Intercountry adoptions are governed by both the laws of the child’s home country and the laws of the United States, including federal law and the laws of the adoptive family’s state of residence. Recently the United States joined The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Convention) which is an international agreement to safeguard intercountry adoptions.

As of April 2008, the Hague Convention will monitor adoptions between the United States and the other seventy-five Convention member countries, including many of the countries from which U.S. citizens adopt most frequently. Each member country has established a central authority to maintain ethical practices in the adoption process. The Hague Convention is intended to protect children, birth parents and adoptive parents from corrupt practices that have become common in some countries. Specifically, the primary principles of the Hague Convention include ensuring that each adoption is in the best interest of the child and preventing the abduction, sale or traffic of children related to intercountry adoptions.

The Hague Convention adoption process involves several major steps. At the outset, an adoptive family must choose an accredited adoption service provider. Under the Hague Convention adoption agencies must be accredited or approved on a national level and adhere to comprehensive federal standards in order to provide adoption services in Convention countries. These standards are designed to ensure that the adoption agencies operate using sound professional and ethical adoption practices. Through immigrant visa petition and visa application processes the adoptive family must be deemed eligible to adopt, and be referred for a child, then the identified child must be found eligible to immigrate to the United States. Finally the adoptive family adopts the child in the child’s country of origin and the adoptive family obtains an immigrant visa for the child. The goal of the multi-step process is to protect children and families by identifying potential problems that could prohibit the child from entering the United States before the child is adopted. This helps ensure that every child who is adopted overseas by a U.S. citizen or brought to the United States for the purpose of adoption by U.S. citizen adoptive parents is able to enter and reside permanently in the United States. If you have any questions about intercountry adoptions, please contact Arlene Kasarjian or Karen Greenberg, the current President of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, which was actively involved in the drafting of the Hague Convention.

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