Roundup of Hague Convention News
See what AF has reported about the Hague over the past year. For more information, visit www.adoptivefamilies.com/hague.
U.S. ratifies the Hague Convention
As of December 12, 2007, the United States is a full member of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. This international adoption agreement is set to go into effect in the U.S. on April 1, 2008. After that date, all adoptions between the U.S. and other Hague countries, including China, Guatemala, India, and Thailand, must be completed in accordance with the treaty (for a full list of "Hague countries," go to hcch.e-vision.nl/index_en.php?act=conventions.status&cid=69).
Adoptions from countries that haven’t joined the Hague Convention, such as Ethiopia and South Korea, will continue as before. As this issue went to press, the State Department announced the imminent publication of the list of agencies accredited to process adoptions from Hague countries. Stay up to date at travel.state.gov/family/adoption/convention/convention_462.html.
Central adoption authority in Guatemala established
New adoption legislation, passed by the Guatemalan Congress on December 11, 2007, establishes a central adoption authority, the National Adoption Council (CNA), which brings the country a step closer to becoming Hague-compliant. Adoptions from Guatemala that were in process before December 31, 2007, may be completed under the former notarial procedures, as long as the case is registered with the CNA. The procedures for and definition of registered cases are still evolving; adopting families are urged to stay in close contact with their adoption service providers. U.S. immigration authorities remind prospective parents who wish to adopt a Guatemalan child under existing regulations that they must file Form I-600A or Form I-600 before April 1, 2008, when the Hague Convention comes into force in the U.S. For more information, visit the Joint Council on International Children's Services-Guatemala page at www.jcics.org/Guatemala.htm. (Read up-to-date notices from the U.S. State Department at travel.state.gov/family/adoption/country/country_369.html#g.)
U.S. ratifies Hague; major source countries on various tracks
On November 16, 2007, the U.S. ratified the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, and plans to begin processing Hague-compliant adoptions on April 1, 2008. Once the treaty is in force, the new requirements will take effect for all adoptions between the U.S. and the more than 70 Convention members.
Of the top five sending countries, only China is Hague-compliant. Guatemala has reaffirmed the Convention, with a plan (at press time) to put new procedures into effect in early January, although it’s not certain how the country plans to implement them. South Korea and Ethiopia have fairly straightforward and well-established systems governing international adoptions, and, thus, have taken no steps to ratify. Adoptions from these countries will continue as non-Hague adoptions. Vietnam ranked sixth among sending countries last year, with 626 adoptions, up from its 163 adoptions in 2006. In an alert issued to Vietnam adopters recently by the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, parents were advised to use extreme care in selecting an adoption service provider. The statement also urges the Vietnamese government to begin taking steps to join the Hague Convention.
Guatemala Reaffirms Hague
Guatemala has reaffirmed the Hague Convention, with an effective date of January 1, 2008, and announced that it will process only Hague-compliant adoptions after this year. Because the Convention is not expected to be in force in the U.S. until next spring, the implementation—combined with impending changes in Guatemala and U.S. adoption law—is causing uncertainty for more than 3,000 American families in the process of adopting from Guatemala.
Since the announcement, many international adoption advocates, including Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS), have urged the Guatemalan Congress to amend Hague legislation to include a transitional plan for pending adoptions. JCICS led a massive call to action that, with assistance from Adoptive Families, generated thousands of inquiries into the offices of Congress members, and established direct communication with the office of the Guatemalan administration. A vote on the amendment to support transitional cases is expected in early November.
Meanwhile, the Department of State has advised prospective adopters just starting out to defer plans to begin adoption in Guatemala until further notice. Stay up to date at travel.state.gov/family/adoption/country/country_389.html.
Hague Convention confirmed in Guatemala
In May, the Guatemalan congress passed legislation to confirm its membership in the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. The affirmation sets the stage for final Hague implementation in that country, and raises hopes that intercountry adoptions will continue after the Convention enters into force for the U.S., in early 2008. At the request of the Guatemalan government, the U.S. Department of State and several Hague countries will work together to provide Guatemala with technical assistance on the Convention, including evaluating draft legislation.
Guatemala has imposed a deadline of December 31st, and will begin to enforce new regulations after that time.
Stay up-to-date on Guatemala adoption at travel.state.gov/family/ adoption/country/country_389.html.
Guatemala process still in flux, but adoptions continue
Since late last year, concern has been growing about whether adoption from Guatemala will continue after the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption comes into effect in the United States in early 2008. Guatemala’s current adoption process, in which private notaries or attorneys work directly with birthmothers and adoption agencies without central government oversight, does not comply with the requirements of the Hague.
Like the United States, Guatemala is a signatory country, meaning adoptions between the two countries must meet Hague standards for oversight, transparency, and other protections for all involved.
Adoption advocates and the governments of both countries have been working to devise a new process that will satisfy all involved parties while meeting the standards of the Hague. Although observers hope that reform legislation recently introduced in the Guatemalan Congress will ultimately ensure the future of intercountry adoption, adoption agencies and the State Department are currently advising families considering adoption from Guatemala to be aware of the risk that the program may end in 2008. Stay up to date on Guatemala adoptions at travel.state.gov/family/adoption/country/country_389.html.
Armenia ratifies Hague Treaty
Armenia recently became the 70th country to ratify the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. The U.S. continues its preparations to ratify the treaty later this year.
Hague accreditation process has begun
The Council on Accreditation is soliciting feedback from the public about the more than 300 U.S. adoption service providers (both adoption agencies and individuals) that applied for accreditation under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. View the list and submit comments through January 31.
Applicants will also undergo site visits as part of the peer-reviewed accreditation process. The Department of State expects the Hague to come into effect in the United States late this year. Stay up to date on the Hague Convention, its U.S. implementation, and the impact it will have on adopting parents at adoptivefamilies.com/hague.
One step closer to Hague ratification
Last October, the U.S. State Department established November 17, 2006 as the “Transitional Approval Date,” or TAD, the date by which adoption service providers had to apply for accreditation according to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. This significant milestone brings the U.S. closer to its goal of ratifying the Hague in 2007. Once that happens, adoptions between the U.S. and other Hague countries will have to adhere to the Convention, ensuring a more ethical process. Learn more about the treaty here.
Hague treaty update
The U.S. Department of State recently chose two organizations—the state of Colorado and the Council on Accreditation of Services to Children and Families—to approve adoption agencies and professionals under Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption standards before the U.S. implements the treaty by early 2008.
The State Department has also defined the process for issuing Hague certificates. These will verify that adoptions were completed in accordance with the treaty and are subject to its safeguards.
A second ruling revised the visa processing procedure for children coming to the U.S. from Hague countries. The new regulations will require pre-approval from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security before parents take custody/adopt a child in the sending country. Parents will still need to obtain final visa approval from the U.S. consulate within the sending country.
The Hague Convention imposed this additional step in an effort to protect newly adopted children from being refused entry into the receiving country. The step will likely lengthen the time it takes to adopt internationally. Just how much time it will add, or if it will require parents to stay in-country longer, is unknown at this point.
Final details about the provisional approval process are expected from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services by the end of 2006.
Deadline to Apply for Hague Accreditation
The U.S. State Department has established November 17, 2006 as the Transitional Approval Date, or TAD. This is the date by which adoption service providers need to submit an application if they wish to be accredited to handle adoptions under the auspices of Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. This significant milestone brings the U.S. closer to its goal of ratifying the Convention in 2007. Once that happens, adoptions between the U.S. and other Hague countries will have to adhere to the Convention, ensuring a more ethical process.
Find a list of countries that have ratified or plan to ratify the Convention here.
Rumors About Halt to Guatemala Adoptions False
The U.S. State Department has dispelled two rumors about the halt to adoptions from Guatemala that were circulating on listservs and within the adoption professional community. The first, that Guatemala would suspend adoptions on January 1, 2007, arose after the First Lady of Guatemala announced new protocol regarding international adoption. In fact, the State Department is encouraged by this step, which is part of the country's efforts to implement the Hague Convention, and assured adopting parents that Guatemala will continue to process current adoption cases.
The second set of rumors started flying after the circulation of a letter that appeared to be on official letterhead and signed by the president of Guatemala, and which stated that Guatemala would halt international adoptions on October 1, 2006. The Guatemalan government confirmed that the letter is fraudulent, and believes that it was an attempt to extort money from adopting parents.
The State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala will continue to monitor the situation. Read the full notice and check for updates here.
Hague regulations move forward
Final regulations concerning accrediting adoption agencies under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption were published in mid-February, along with rules about retaining adoption records. Still to come are rules that govern how adoptions will be processed under the Convention. Because the next step—approving adoption agencies according to the new regulations—is expected to take two years, the U.S. may not come under the treaty's auspices until 2008.
Hague Convention on International Adoption – In August, the U.S. Department of State submitted regulations on accreditation and approval of international adoption services to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB review is the last step before the regulations become final. Accreditation of agencies to conduct adoptions under the Hague Convention must be complete before the U.S. can officially ratify the treaty. As this is expected to take another two years, the Hague Convention is unlikely to impact the U.S. before 2008.
Sixty-seven countries have now adopted the Hague Convention. Learn about this important international treaty.
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