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How the Hague Convention Regulations Improve Your International Adoption Agency or Facilitator Selection Process

The rationale behind the new Hague Convention regulations and how helps your your international adoption process, is discussed in this exclusive interview with Jean Nelson Erichsen, author of Inside the Adoption Agency, and Cofounder of Los Ninos International Adoption Center.

Interview by Allison Martin

How do the new Hague regulations improve the international adoption process?

The Hague Convention revolutionizes a process that was previously uncontrolled and marred by scandal. Back in the nineties, numerous "sending" countries asked the United States to sign bilateral agreements with the goal of protecting children from abduction, exploitation, sale and trafficking. Rather than create separate agreements, the matter was turned over to the State Department, in order to create a treaty that would be acceptable in every country. For two years, Study Groups met to produce a final version that was presented at the Peace Palace in 1993.

Most of the "child sending" countries, especially those in Latin America, quickly implemented the Hague Convention. The United States pushed countries to join the Hague Convention, because adoptions from Hague countries will be better supervised. Each has a Central Authority that oversees adoption nationwide. In the meantime, numerous delays slowed down the ratification and implementation by the United States until 2008. With the Hague Convention is in place, any transgressions or violations of the Hague Convention will be referred to the Central Authority in that country.

Not every country has joined the Hague Convention. China did so in January of 2006. Russia does not appear to be interested, nor Ukraine. But here's some good news from Vietnam: We recently met with Dr. Long, Department of International Adoption, and Mr. Dao, Senior Legal Expert of Vietnam at the National Council for Adoption Conference. They told us that Vietnam is planning to join the Hague Convention, perhaps in 2008.

What criteria should parents look for in choosing an adoption agency under these new regulations?

Prospective parents will no longer depend on guesswork and intuition to choose an agency. The U.S. Department of State will publish and maintain a list of accredited agencies for the public by 2008. Prospective parents will then be able to select an agency that is accredited under the Hague regulations, regardless of the country from which they choose to adopt. Accredited agencies may place children from Hague Convention and non-Hague Convention countries.

How can parents find out more information in this selection process, on international adoption agencies and facilitators?

Prospective adoptive parents may contact the Council of Accreditation for the names of agencies currently in the accreditation process. The agencies are willing to disclose their policies, procedures and finances for the accreditation process.

What criteria should prospective adopters use in choosing a private facilitator for international adoption?

Consider the state and national resources, as well as the education and credentials of the staff of a reliable adoption agency. A facilitator can't match it. Agencies are held accountable and have to answer to their state standards. Soon they'll also have to answer to the Central Authority of The Hague Convention. But a facilitator answers to no one.

Jean Nelson-Erichsen is the co-founder of the Los Ninos International Adoption Center in Texas and the mother of four children adopted from South America. She is the author of Inside the Adoption Agency (a look at how an adoption agency works) and co-author of How to Adopt Internationally (practical information for families who seek to complete an international adoption).

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