Wednesday, December 12, 2007

U.S. Adopts the Hague Convention on International Adoption

This is long run a positive development. We have been corresponding with a couple waiting to go to Vietnam and for couples like them, it's a worry because Vietnam hasn't signed yet.

Here's how it works:

    Each nation names a central authority — here, the State Department — to establish ethical practices, require accreditation for the agencies handling the adoptions, maintain a registry to track complaints and create a system for decertifying agencies that do not meet the standards.
    In addition, once the treaty is fully put in place in April, parents seeking a visa for an overseas adoption must demonstrate to the State Department that a child has been properly cleared for adoption, that a local placement had been considered, and that the birth parents were counseled on their decision and have signed consent forms. Prospective adoptive parents also must show they are properly trained for what could be a rocky transition.
I'm not sure how much will change for families adopting from countries that sign and ratify. When we adopted, we had to certify all of the above to get the Kid T's visa into the U.S. The big difference is that our big stumbling block was INS. As a result, things vary country to country depending on who is the INS Officer in Charge (our OIC, not the nicest guy.) Presumably this will introduce some uniformity. And though the State Department hasn't inspired confidence in anyone for a very long time, the INS has been consistently worse.

The very good news will be real oversight of international adoption agencies. Based on what I heard (people queing up for exit visas find each other and start talking) states generally don't regulate the international agencies much leading to some dysfunctional agencies seriously messing with people. If the U.S. can get a handle on that, so much the better.