This past spring marks two years since the Hague Convention on International Adoption took effect in the U.S. This treaty actually was written in 1993, but had to be ratified by various signatory nations, some of which had different dates set for their country to come into compliance with the treaty.
Two years ago, the internet was buzzing with fears that small adoption agencies , perhaps small faith-based programs or programs that specialized in a certain, relatively unusual sending country, such as Poland, would not be able to meet its provisions and would stop operating, thus putting children in areas not served by larger programs in danger of not being adopted. A few alarmists even spread a rumor that international adoption would completely end on April 1, 2008.
That certainly did not happen, although international adoption numbers are down from their peak of the mid-2000s. There are a few agencies or adoption facilitators who are no longer in the field. Others have narrowed their focus to serving only families in one state or to being agencies that provide training and/or homestudies and access to waiting child lists and other referral sources, but are not themselves a placing agency for children. Most of the changes, however, are things adoption agencies have advocated for years, such as better training, transparency and accountability procedures.
It is important to know that there are flourishing adoption programs in countries which are not participants in the Hague Convention. South Korea, for example, has had an exemplary program for over fifty years, and felt no need to implement the Convention. Adoptions from South Korea to the U.S. continue just as they always have. At the time the treaty took effect here in 2008, almost half the international adoptions to the U.S. were from non-Hague countries like Russia, Ethiopia, South Korea and the Ukraine.
Countries can also choose to join the Hague Convention countries at a later date. My next blogs will go into what the Convention actually says, some concerns about it, and how it is impacting adoption trends.
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