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Q & A with Maura Harty

Harty, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, is responsible for implementing the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption in the U.S. She also created and continues to supervise the Office of Children’s Issues.

Q: What changes can adopting parents expect to see once the Hague Convention comes into force for the United States?
A: If they’re adopting from another Hague country, parents will see many positive changes, including:

  • Nationally accredited adoption service providers: For the first time ever, parents will know that their primary adoption service provider has undergone a rigorous approval process.
  • A more transparent process: Among other changes, service providers will have to disclose, in writing, their policies, procedures, and fees. Adopting parents will receive translated medical records.
  • Parent training: Prospective parents will receive at least 10 hours of training (in addition to homestudy requirements) before they adopt.
  • Hague Certificate: This will confirm that the adoption was granted in compliance with the Hague Convention. When the certificate is issued in conjunction with a full and final adoption overseas, that adoption will be legally recognized in the U.S. as final.

    Q: Will adopting parents be able to access the complaints in the national registry?
    A: Accrediting entities and the U.S. Department of State will investigate all allegations made to them, but the general public will have access only to complaints that have been substantiated.

    Q: Guatemala ratified the Convention without having properly implemented it. What is the country’s current status?
    A: The U.S. Department of State is encouraging Guatemala to pass implementing legislation this year. We’ve offered consultation and training to government officials, and believe that Guatemala will find an avenue to implement the Convention so that adoptions between our two countries can continue once we ratify.

    Q: Russia signed the Convention in 2000 but hasn’t ratified it yet. What does this mean for U.S. adopters?
    A: Russian officials have indicated that aspects of domestic law may interfere with Hague implementation. The U.S. Department of State has encouraged Russia to begin the ratification process, but the country has taken no steps to do so. If Russia still hasn’t ratified by the time the Convention comes into force for the U.S., adoptions between the two countries may continue as non-Hague adoptions.

    Q: Do you anticipate any changes in the China adoption process?
    A: When China ratified last September, the Chinese Centre for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) assured us that it would continue to process applications from U.S. families as it always had. Thus far, that is exactly what we have seen. When the U.S. is ready to ratify, we’ll once again work with Chinese officials to ensure that there are no disruptions to our mutual procedures.

    Q: Do you think any countries will open their international adoption programs to the U.S. once we ratify the Treaty?
    A: I’m not aware of any countries that might liberalize their international adoption policies when the U.S. is a Convention country. We do know that a number of countries we currently work with look forward to our national accreditation of adoption service providers. U.S. adoptive families must continue to be diligent about filing the post-placement reports required by their children’s countries of origin. This encourages countries to trust us to adopt their children.

    Q: What will happen to any cases that are in process when the Convention comes into force for the U.S.?
    A: We anticipate ratifying the Convention in 2007. If parents filed their I-600A or I-600 before it comes into force, the Convention will not apply. The date of entry-into-force will be posted on our Web site well in advance.

    Read more about the Hague Convention and track each country’s ratification progress on the State Department’s Hague overview page:

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