• April 2008
  • Vol. 9, No. 3

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Hague Update From U.S. Department of State

A message from the U.S. Department of State

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (the Convention) entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008. On this milestone day, the United States joined with more than 70 countries around the world in recognizing the importance of intercountry adoption and an adoption process that protects all those involved. A list of these countries can be viewed at www.hcch.net

lmplementing the Convention and the Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA) has led to many changes in the U.S. intercountry adoption process. Some of these key changes are highlighted below. As more Americans expand their families through intercountry adoption, we are pleased that many of these families and the children they seek to adopt will receive increased protections during this significant, life-changing process.

Accreditation of adoption service providers: For the first time ever, U.S. adoption service providers (providers) are subject to Federal oversight by the Department of State and its designated accrediting entities, the Colorado Department of Human Services (CO) and the Council on Accreditation (COA). Only those providers that have been accredited or approved by CO or COA may provide certain key adoption services in connection with Convention adoption cases. A search feature for the providers that have been accredited, temporarily accredited, or approved is available on the Department's website at http://adoption.state.gov/hague_convention/agency_accreditation/agency_search.php. The database will be updated on a rolling basis as providers receive, or lose, accreditation or approval.

New DHS procedures and forms: New Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rules require prospective adoptive parents to identify the country from which they will adopt in their initial application. New Forms I-800A and I-800 will replace Forms I-600A and I-600 for Convention adoption cases. Form I-800A incorporates comprehensive requirements for home studies that are designed to protect children and ensure that the prospective adoptive parents have the skills, capacity, knowledge, and training to parent a child, including, if applicable, a child with any special needs. Through Form I-800, children adopted from a Convention country (incoming cases) must meet a new definition of a "Convention adoptee," which among other things allows for two parents to relinquish a child if they are incapable of providing proper care. Form I-800A must be filed prior to Form I-800. The I-800 is used to determine whether the child will qualify as a Convention adoptee.

New U.S. visa requirements: A consular officer must determine whether the child appears to meet the criteria for visa eligibility based on the evidence available before the adoption is finalized or custody is granted in the country of origin. After the adoption or grant of custody, Department of State consular officers in Convention countries will issue a Hague Adoption Certificate (HAC) or Hague Custody Certificate (HCC) and grant a visa in cases where the adoption or grant of custody has met the requirements of the Convention and the IAA. New visa categories, IH-3 and IH-4, will be used in Convention adoption cases.

Adoption Tracking: The Department will track both incoming cases and cases of children emigrating from the United States through an Adoption Tracking Service (ATS). A Hague Complaint Registry will track public complaints related to intercountry adoptions.

If you have any questions or concerns, please refer to the Department website, http://adoption.state.gov, or contact the Office of Children's Issues via AskCI@state.gov.

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