February 13, 2011
Choosing an adoption agency is not an easy task. Once a family has committed to begin the process of intercountry adoption, they are faced with choosing which agency and program will be best. This is often a daunting task of pouring over websites and info packets, interviews, and free seminars.
It is important to note that when choosing an agency, not all agencies are created equal. It is sad that not everyone involved with intercountry adoption is operating under the child’s best interest. This often leads to corruption, greed, and even the halt of intercountry adoptions within borders. Parents who have decided to pursue international adoption often hear of such scary stories on the news or the internet which can frighten people away from thoughts of adoption entirely. This is why it is important to understand Hague Accreditation/Approval when choosing an adoption agency and program.
The Hague Convention (full text) is an international agreement that outlines best practices for safe and ethical standards in international adoption. The Intercountry Adoption Act was signed into law in 2000. The Hague Convention for Intercountry Adoption was enacted in the United States in April of 2008. To date, 75 countries have joined the Hague Adoption Convention. Countries who have signed onto the Hague Convention follow a different set of guidelines than countries who are not operating under Hague. Hague countries are active in preventing child trafficking and abduction within their country. They make all efforts to try to find a family within their own country and culture before deeming a child eligible for intercountry adoption.
There are countries who have not signed on to be party to the Hague Convention and are considered non-Convention countries. It is possible to adopt from these countries, but it is important to choose an agency to work with who is both licensed and operating under high standards for the adoption of children. A way to do this is to choose an agency that holds Hague Accreditation or Approval even if you are not working with a Convention program. Being Hague Accredited/Approved means (1) the agency makes sure that they are operating in the best interest of the children involved with adoption and (2) the agency makes sure that there is no involvement in child trafficking, abduction, child exploitation, or the unethical "sale" of children.
Being Hague Accredited/Approved means that an adoption agency must go through a rigorous evaluation by an accrediting organization. The agency is evaluated on standards and practices such as recruitment of potential adoptive parents, placement of children with special needs, comprehensiveness of the home study, and provision of education for adoptive parents before, during, and after placement. Although an agency need not be accredited in order to participate in adoption in a non-Hauge country, an agency must be accredited/approved in order to participate in the adoption of a child from a country who operates under the Hague Convention. If you want to adopt from a country who is party to the Hague Convention, you have to choose an adoption agency that currently holds Hague Accreditation or Approval through either the State of Colorado Department of Human Services or the Council of Accreditation.
Overall, being Hague Accredited/Approved means that the agency is operating under the highest standards in consideration of the child’s best interest during intercountry adoption. For a list of agencies who currently hold Hague Accrediation, or agencies who have been denied this accreditation, you can visit http://adoption.state.gov/hague/accreditation.html
Editors note: Unfortunately, there are reports of unethical practices by even Hague Accredited agencies. It is our hope that accrediting bodies take such incidences very seriously for the protection of every child and so families can depend on Hague Accreditation/Approval as a standard of reassurance.