The Hague Convention is a global agreement to protect intercountry adoptions. This means that people in California may adopt children in other countries that signed the Convention. Fully titled The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, it was concluded in May 1993, and the United States signed it the following year, putting it into force in April 2008.

The goal of the convention is to prevent the sale, trafficking or abduction of children, ensuring that intercountry adoptions are in the children’s best interests. It recognizes that intercountry adoption is a method of offering children the advantage of permanent homes when suitable families are not available in their countries of residence. It also requires that every signing country set up a Central Authority to be the point of contact and reliable source of information in that country.

Adopting children from other convention countries is similar to adopting children from countries not signed to the treaty. However, one key difference is that potential adoptive parents seeking adoption in convention countries could receive more substantial protections.

Adoptive parents are given and retain legal rights to make all of the decisions regarding their adopted children. Unlike obtaining child custody orders for children, adoption is a final and irreversible decision. Although a parent or non-parent may obtain a court order for the legal custody of a child, this order could be modified in the future if the circumstances of the parent or non-parent are significant enough to make a change.

However, potential adoptive parents could seek custody of the children who they plan to adopt to gain control over the decisions made regarding the children and so the children may live with them until the adoption process is completed. While taking this measure is needed to ensure the safety of children in some cases, it is not always necessary. Potential adoptive parents who are unsure of what steps to take in their situations might find their paths after speaking to attorneys. The information in this blog should not be used as a replacement for legal advice.

Source: US Department of State , “Understanding the Hague Convention“, December 05, 2014