Hague Convention Adoption
If the country of origin of the child you plan to adopt is subject to the Hague Convention, then your adoption proceedings must comply with the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Convention). Germany and the United States are among the list of countries who are party to the Hague Convention. The provisions in this treaty can be cumbersome, heavily detailed, and include very specific guidelines. However, the purpose of the international treaty is to protect and ensure what is best for all parties involved in the adoption. It is seen as a safeguard against such issues as abduction and child trafficking.
Below are facts related to adoptions that are subject to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Convention):
Central Authority and Adoption Service Provider
- Not all countries are subject the Hague Adoption Convention. To learn if the country of origin of the child you are planning to adopt is subject to the Convention, please click this link:
- The first step in an intercountry adoption subject to the Hague Treaty is to locate the designated Central Authority in your country.
- There is a designated Hague Convention certified Central Authority in each country. In the United States, the Department of State is designated as the Central Authority. The exact responsibilities of the Central Authority can be found in Chapter III of the treaty.
- The potential parents must also locate an adoption service provider (ASP). The Central Authority and ASP are responsible for safeguarding and assisting the intercountry adoption proceedings and have been accredited to do so.
- To find an accredited ASP, please click on this link: https://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/hague-convention/agency-accreditation/adoption-service-provider-search.html
- Adoption service providers may not provide legal advice and/or represent the parties in the adoption in regards to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). For legal procedures, an immigration lawyer is appropriate.
Requirements for Potential Parents
- As required in Article 5 of the Hague Convention, the eligibility of the potential parents must be determined and several requirements must be met. In addition, each country will have its own specific requirements.
- For instance, in the United States, the potential parent, if unmarried must be at least 25 years of age. If it is a married couple that wishes to adopt, they must do so jointly. Additional criteria such as passing a background check and a home study are also required.
- In addition, the Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, must be filed by the prospective parents with the USCIS. Additional documents will also be required. Before the form is processed, potential parents may not accept any placements. If the USCIS approves the form, the ASP and potential parents must forward the form to the country of origin.
- The Country then has the choice to accept the potential parents and the responsibility to match the potential parent with a child. The country also has the responsibility to send the child’s “identity, adoptability, background, social environment, family history, medical history including that of the child’s family, and any special needs of the child” (Article 16 Report), and the potential parents have two weeks to accept the match.
- The country of the potential parents must then process the eligibility of the child. Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, in the US determines whether the match may be authorized and whether the child is eligible to be adopted.
- If for some reason, the Form I-800 is rejected by the USCIS, Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Ground of Inadmissibility, may be filed in response.
Requirements for the Child
- As defined by the Hague Convention as found in Article 4, a child is eligible for intercountry adoption “only if the competent authorities of the State of origin- have established that the child is adoptable” and “have determined, after possibilities for placement of the child within the State of origin have been given due consideration, that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests;”
- If the USCIS approves the I-800 petition, the case will be assigned to either a U.S. embassy or a consulate abroad, and they will assist with the next necessary step to finalize the adoption. This includes filing either a Form DS-230 or a Form DS-156.
- After the visa has been processed, the country of origin of the child will receive a Central Authority notification (Article 5 Letter). This informs the country that the potential parents have been approved and the child may reside in the country of the potential parents, and the adoption proceedings may be finalized. The country of origin will then issue an adoption or custody decree (Article 23 Certificate).
- The final step is an interview at the embassy or with a consulate. During the interview, the designated officer will review and finalize the I-800 and grant the child either an IH-3 or IH-4 visa.
- With the finalization and recognition of the adoption, the Hague Treaty concludes in Article 26 that the adoptive parents are the legal parents and that pre-existing legal relationships have been terminated.
If you are interested in an intercountry adoption that is subject to the Hague Convention, schedule your initial consultation!