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What is The Hague Convention?

The Hague Convention is an international agreement that puts forth certain requirements that guarantees that adoptions that occur between countries - in other words, where the adoptive parents and the adoptee child are not from the same country - are made in the best interest of the children involved. The Hague Convention was concluded in The Hague, Netherlands on May 29, 1993.

There are several countries that have agreed to sign into the Hague Convention including the United States. The United states signed The Hague Convention in 1994, and the international treaty went into force for the country in on April 1, 2008. By signing into the Hague Convention, the United States agreed to the requirements stipulated in the international treaty and applies them to any international adoption from or to another Hague Convention-member country. The treaty also enforces civil law, particularly law that permits a parent to go to court when there is an international child abduction or when a child is facing deportation to a home country.

When the Hague Convention Applies

Notably, the Hague Convention applies to all adoptions between the United States and other member countries to the treaty. But, as mentioned above, the Hague Convention is also useful in other scenarios outside of international adoptions. Should one parent flee to another country and take his or her child without the other parent’s consent, and refuses to return the child home, the Hague Convention grants the left behind-parent the ability to seek and obtain custody and have the child returned to him or her.

Of note, the Hague Convention applies to all adoptions by U.S. citizens who are residents of America of children who are residents of any other country that is a member to the international treaty. As a result of the law, adopting a child from a Hague Convention member country is similar in many ways to adopting a child from a country that is not a member to the treaty. There are some key differences, however. Those who wish to adopt a child may receive greater protections if the adoption is done from a Hague Convention member country.

How to Begin the Process

It is important to understand how an individual should begin the process of adoption under the Hague Convention. Each specific member country to the international treaty has a central authority which helps with applications. In the United States, the U.S. Department of State is the central authority for international adoption. A skilled attorney can assist you throughout this process to help you navigate through the Office of Children’s Issues within the nation’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.

The following steps must be completed in order to be eligible for a Hague Convention adoption:

  • Choose an accredited Adoption Service Provider;
  • Apply in order to be found eligible;
  • Referral to adopt a child;
  • Apply on behalf of the child to immigrate to the U.S.;
  • Adopt the child; and
  • Acquire a Visa for the child.
Preparing and Protecting Your Family

One of the many ways the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC can help is to assist in your ability to take preventative measures that will ensure you are not facing a difficult scenario with your child. Often times - and particularly when a child has dual citizenship - it is essential for a parent to be prepared for the possibility of an international custody dispute. This occurs when one parent takes the child to a foreign country and refuses to return to the U.S. Consequently, parents should always keep a record of all of his or her child’s information; this is particularly true when it comes to passports, social security cards, and international information. Moreover, separated parents can and should rely on custody orders to ensure the children remain in their home country. For parents that are separating or divorcing, a skilled North Carolina family law attorney can help draft custody orders with clear language that states any children cannot leave the U.S. without permission from both parents.

Below is a list of Hague Convention member countries, with which the U.S. is currently processing adoptions with these countries:

  • Albania
  • Andorra
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Canada
  • Cape Verde
  • Chile
  • China (and Hong Kong)
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Guinea
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Madagascar
  • Mali
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Mongolia
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • San Marino
  • Seychelles
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela