The Hague Adoption Convention

As we get closer to moving into the second half of our adoption process, I want to inform people why we were so set on adopting from a Hague Convention country. Too often when you hear about international adoption, you hear the tragic stories of families being coerced to give up (not place for adoption) their children – either with promises that they’ll be able to get into contact or lies that their children are only going abroad for the education, not being formally adopted to another country.

This is not all cases of adoption, but it should not be any. I make no claims that the Hague Adoption Convention process is guaranteed to eliminate these sorts of tragedies, but it is important that more checks and balances and a stricter background check is in place to ensure that as new families are being created, other families are not being destroyed. The Convention begins with,

Intercountry adoptions shall be made in the best interests of the child and with respect for his or her fundamental rights and to prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in children and each State should take, as a matter of priority, appropriate measures to enable the child to remain in the care of his or her family of origin.

When D and I set out to learn more about international adoption, we went first to the Department of State website regarding Intercountry Adoption. We knew immediately we wanted to make sure we were adopting from a country that had gone the distance to put in these extra safeguards. So when we had decided on our adoption agency, we also needs to make sure the agency was Hague certified between the US and the country in question as well. In our case, both our local and international agencies are certified. I am not entirely certain our local agency is required to be, but I am assuming yes as they are the ones providing our home study services.

Two points of the Convention are really important to note:

  1. That the children are approved as eligible for adoption. That means that both countries involved are hunting down immediate or extended family members (if any can be found) to determine whether or not they can be safely and lovingly placed with their birth families.
  2. That the children approved for adoption do not, for whatever reason, have prospects of being adopted within their own country.

It almost feels as though having a child placed with our family is a last resort, which I honestly feel it should be – every child deserves to know their birth family and remain connected with their culture and country. D and I are going to do our best to fulfill all of those needs as they grow older (try to find any family if they wish to search, trips back to South Africa and integration of culture and history into our everyday life back in the States), but it wonderful to know that the adoption authorities in our countries are also thinking of these things as well.

There is a lot more information on the Hague Country out there, and I included links to get started below. It is essential that we can provide our children with the knowledge that we wanted to make sure that there was nothing illegal or sketchy about their adoption. During one of our initial information meetings at an agency, the speaker even recommended hiring our own private investigator to add that extra level of security to the process – we are not sure of the feasibility of this option, but it is one we have considered.

There is a special commission for the Hague Adoption Convention taking place this summer, June 2015. It looks like they will be reviewing the practicalities of the convention, how states have been implementing the requirements, as well as releasing information on the costs of the process on the countries involved and updating the Convention in terms of good practices, terminology, and other aspects.

I’ll be posting shortly about the paperwork process for South Africa and what they are requiring in their dossier. But please, make sure if you are adopting internationally, you are not blind to the dangers of the process and doing what is right for all children.

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