Hague Convention Laws You Need to Know

The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption is an international agreement to safeguard intercountry adoptions. It was established in 1993 and joined by the United States in 1994. The Convention entered into force for the U.S. in 2008. The purpose of the Convention is to prevent abduction and child trafficking. It recognizes the advantage of adoption by a family not of the child’s home country when a suitable home has not been found in that country.

  • An accredited or approved adoption agency is required. Only adoption service providers that have been federally approved may provide adoption services for Convention adoptions. This requirement guarantees prospective adoptive parents that the adoption agency has been evaluated by the State Department. The Council on Accreditation evaluates and approves agencies to ensure uniform standards and ethical practices.
  • All fees and expenses must be disclosed in writing beforehand. The Convention requires agencies to provide an itemized list of fees and expenses in advance. Changes may only be made in very specific circumstances. It
  • affords a formal system for making a complaint against a Hague Accredited agency for non-compliance.
  • Each child who is adopted from a Convention country will receive either a Hague Adoption Certificate or a Hague Custody Certificate from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that issues the immigrant visa to the child. An officer will determine visa eligibility before finalization of the adoption, allowing prospective adoptive parents to know in advance whether the child will be permitted into the U.S.

Adopting a child from a Convention country usually consists of the following steps:

Choose an agency.

You must choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider in the U.S. You must ensure that the chosen country has authorized your agency to provide services in that country.

Apply to be found eligible to adopt.

You must be found eligible to adopt in the U.S. by Citizen and Immigration Services. You must submit the appropriate forms including your home study and info on your health, finance and background.

Be referred to a child.

Once you are found eligible to adopt, paperwork will be sent to the Convention country to ensure you meet that country’s criteria. The info on the child will be released to you including psychological, social, and medical history. It will include the child’s name, date of birth, and the reason for placement. You will have two weeks to accept or deny the referral. 

Apply for the child to be found eligible to immigrate to the U.S.

This requests the child be listed as a Convention adoptee. Once that is done you can submit a visa application. A Convention adoptee classification is provisional and must be finalized by a Consulate Officer later in the adoption process. 

Adopt or gain legal custody of the child.

After the completion of all previous steps you may proceed to the finalization of the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption. The process of legalization varies from one country to another.

Obtain an immigrant visa for the child.

You’ll need to apply for a birth certificate, the child’s passport, and U.S. Immigrant Visa. Afterward, you will be issued a Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate.

Considering adoption? Let us help you on your journey to creating your forever family. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.