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April 2002Vol. 3, No. 3U.S. More Vigilant of International Adoptions

It's estimated that U.S. families adopt four of every five children placed through intercountry adoption and in 2001, U.S. families adopted 18,537 foreign-born children. The high cost of these adoptions, averaging between $15,000 and $25,000, and the one to three years it takes to complete the process have led to abuses in some countries.

In response to growing concern about the adoption process in some countries, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA) was enacted by the U.S. on October 6, 2000 to approve the provisions of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.

The Hague Convention sets minimum standards and procedures for adoptions between implementing countries in order to prevent the abduction, sale, or trafficking of children, to ensure proper consent to the adoption, and to establish the child's status in the receiving country.

The Department of State, the lead agency in the United States, is expected to publish Hague Convention regulations in the Federal Register in 2002. The State Department will collaborate with the Immigration and Naturalization Service to ensure that Hague adoptions comply with applicable U.S. immigration laws.

Because not all countries have ratified the Hague convention, other steps are being taken to discourage questionable adoption practices in all intercountry adoptions. Recently, INS announced the immediate suspension of the processing of adoption petitions in Cambodia and a review of the adoption process in Vietnam. In Guatemala, an international report finding widespread abuses prompted the U.S. and Canadian embassies to require DNA testing of birth mothers and children to confirm their biological relationship.

Visit the State Department's International Adoption website for more information on international adoption issues and information about adoption in specific countries (

Related Items

Visit the International Adoption Web page on the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse website ( for additional information.

See the following related articles in these past issues of the Children's Bureau Express:

  • "U.S. Studies Adoptions in Romania" (November/December 2001)
  • "Website Publishes Feedback on Draft Intercountry Adoption Standards" (November/December 2001)
  • "Federal Legislation Enacted on International Adoption" (November 2000)