What Is the Hague Convention? -–An Overview

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.

Please see these related blogs:

Adoption Programs You’ve Never Heard Of

Lesser-Known Adoption Programs with Shorter Timeframes

Our Adoption Story: The Wait Gets Long

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About Pam Connell

Pam Connell is a mother of three by both birth and adoption. She has worked in education, child care, social services, ministry and journalism. She resides near Seattle with her husband Charles and their three children. Pam is currently primarily a Stay-at-Home-Mom to Patrick, age 8, who was born to her; Meg, age 6, and Regina, age 3, who are biological half-sisters adopted from Korea. She also teaches preschoolers twice a week and does some writing. Her activities include volunteer work at school, church, Cub Scouts and a local Birth to Three Early Intervention Program. Her hobbies include reading, writing, travel, camping, walking in the woods, swimming and scrapbooking. Pam is a graduate of Seattle University and Gonzaga University. Her fields of study included journalism, religious education/pastoral ministry, political science and management. She served as a writer and editor of the college weekly newspaper and has been Program Coordinator of a Family Resource Center and Family Literacy Program, Volunteer Coordinator at a church, Religion Teacher, Preschool Teacher, Youth Ministry Coordinator, Camp Counselor and Nanny. Pam is an avid reader and continuing student in the areas of education, child development, adoption and public policy. She is eager to share her experiences as a mother by birth and by international adoption, as a mother of three kids of different learning styles and personalities, as a mother of kids of different races, and most of all as a mom of three wonderful kids!