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Contributed by Jena, who blogs at Two Different Loves

There has been a lot of buzz this past week about which agencies have been accredited as Hague Compliant. There have been questions about why some agencies haven’t been. The larger question to ask may be, why is compliance with Hague regulations so important to look for in an agency and why aren’t all agencies Hague compliant?

From the JCICS website:

On October 6, 2000 President Clinton signed into law the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000, the US implementation of the Hague Convention on International Adoption.

The Hague Convention is multilateral treaty that includes 66 prospective member countries. The Convention serves to set internationally agreed upon norms and procedures for countries who participate in intercountry adoption. The goal of the Convention is to protect the children, birth parents and adoptive parents involved in intercountry adoptions and to prevent child-trafficking and other abuses.

Basically, being Hague compliant is another important (but not the ONLY) step to ensuring that the rights of all parties are being upheld in the adoption process.

Now that the Department of State has become the Central Authority for enforcing Hague compliance, there will finally be a level at which the U.S. government can enforce regulations pertaining to adoption agencies actions while they are operating in other countries.

According to the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute website, since the DoS is now the Central Authority, they have the responsibility to:

Direct the State Department to develop implementing regulations and contract with one or more accrediting entities; Delegate to the accrediting entity(ies) responsibility for accrediting/approval, oversight, enforcement and reporting on performance of providers of international adoption services; Require that providers of international adoption services must be accredited or approved by an accrediting entity under contract to the State Department; Require accredited and approved providers of international adoption services to disclose policies, practices, disruption rates and fees to adoptive parents; Prohibit providers from paying contingency fees to their staff and contractors based on finalized adoptions; Requires the State Department to prepare an annual report on intercountry adoptions for Congress; and permit certain access to Convention records on international adoptions.

Why does it matter that the DoS will have this power? What we have seen so far in Vietnam has shown us that, largely the DoS and CIS are very ineffective and in a real sense have their hands tied as to how they regulate suspicious behavior of agencies and/or facilitators. We have seen numerous cases of families and children being caught up in NOIDs, due to the fact that NOIDs are, at this point the only way to “catch” agencies who have acted unethically. Sadly, what we have all seen, is that it is families and children who are all too often punished, and not the agencies themselves, since it is in fact the family who is issued the NOID and not the agency.

Agencies who are not Hague accredited will still be able to operate under a supervisory power, or to only provide certain limited services that may be provided in Convention cases without being accredited/approved or supervised. It may also choose to provide services only in cases not subject to the Convention.(to read more on what it means to be a supervised agency, go here). Unlike the JCICS SoP’s that were recently signed, Hague accreditation is not a one time event, it is done on a rolling basis, with agencies that complete the process being accredited as they are finished with the requirements.

While adoption service providers will be required to be Hague accredited in countries that have already ratified the Hague, countries (like Vietnam) that have not yet implemented the Hague, will not require accreditation at this time.

So why is it important to choose an agency that is accredited? Because this field is largely unregulated. There are so few checks and balances and to have one more step in regulating this vast field is one step closer to ensuring that ethical adoptions are the only adoptions that take place.

To read more on Hague compliance and what it means for agencies and countries involved:

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/convention/convention_462.html and click on the Information for Parents link.

Or click here:
Ambassador Maura Harty Speaks Candidly About the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children

To see the list of currently accredited agencies click here.

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Comment by Alix
2008-03-06 15:37:42

I was pleased to see that my agency was accredited; however, I had no idea what that meant in real terms. Thank you for your review of this.

Comment by Alix
2008-03-06 15:39:29

I wish I could edit my previous post; but does anyone have any insight on how this will affect VN now? Will the DoS have a certain level of comfort dealing with Hague-compliant agencies?

Comment by bella
2008-03-07 05:16:32

There are still pending cases. Our agency expects there not to be any issues in their accrediation.

2009-05-15 10:23:28

[…] This week we reached another fork in the road. Our agency informed us that while things are still moving in Armenia, they are moving very slowly. Emphasis on very. Since implementation of The Hague Convention, which sets forth guidelines and procedures to prevent abduction, exploitation, sale, or trafficking of children, international adoption has slowed to a snail’s pace. We hear that adoptions in China are now taking 37 months, after dossier submission. The U.S. has closed the door, indefinitely, for several countries that are not “Hague-compliant,” such as Guatemala and Vietnam . […]

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