Sunday, December 1, 2013

Guest post: What does it mean when you decide to adopt internationally using a Hague accredited agency? (Part 1 of 3)

Sara is a Christian writer, mom and adoption advocate. Sara and her family adopted a little girl from Uganda three years ago. Sara is writing a book about reforming adoption and orphan care from a Christian perspective. The book will be published in the United States and United Kingdom in October 2014. I'm very excited and honored to have her writing this series of posts on a very important subject, Hague accreditation.  When Sara is not busy writing her book, she blogs at Family, Hope, Love

When our family started the adoption process four years ago, I was confused by the controversy around ethical adoption. If there were millions of orphans in the world who were all alone, growing up in orphanages or on the streets, how could adoption ever be bad? My eyes were open, my heart was broken, and I believed God was calling our family to adopt.

But before we started our adoption paperwork, we spent about a year learning and praying. In this season, we began to read articles and watch news reports about corruption in adoption. At first, I did not want to believe that Christian families or adoption agencies could be involved in things like buying babies. I wanted to be able to trust that a Christian adoption agency would do the right thing. Little by little, my eyes were opened to the truth.

Corruption is common in international adoption – and it’s hard to avoid even when you have good intentions.

As families are becoming aware of the complicated moral issues in adoption and don’t want to be involved in trafficking or injustice, many are looking for ethical adoption agencies. Many adoption advocates suggest that the best way to avoid corruption in adoption is to pick a Hague accredited adoption agency.

But is this enough?

In the adoption world, there is a huge amount of confusion about the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, often simply called the Hague. Some adoption advocates blame the Hague for making adoption more difficult and expensive. They claim the Hague is red tape that keeps children stuck. Others take a more moderate approach, seeing the Hague as a reasonable set of standards preventing corruption in adoption.

In general, adoption with a Hague accredited agency in a Hague convention country is one of the best ways to avoid corruption in international adoption. Hauge countries such as China, Colombia and Latvia have relatively stable, ethical adoption programs that tend to place waiting older and special needs children with adoptive families.
Countries that are not a part of the Hague convention, including Ethiopia, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, tend to have more problems with corruption in adoption. But doesn’t picking a Hague accredited adoption agency make a difference? Isn’t this the best way to navigate the complicated adoption process? Doesn’t Hague accreditation mean adoption agencies are above reproach?

Over the last two years as I have been research and writing my book, I have interviewed dozens of families who experienced or witnessed corruption in their adoption journeys. Many of these families were adopting through Hague agencies. While these agencies often did things by the book in the United States, they were willing to bend the laws overseas.

Holly asked me to write a guest post for her blog about the Hague convention – and why picking a Hague accredited agency isn’t enough to have an ethical adoption. To do this, I will answer a few questions.

What is the Hague and why does it matter?
Under international law, nations from around the world have agreed that children have rights. These rights are spelled out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The most basic right children have is the right to grow up with their families. Children need the protection and provision provided by a family to thrive. The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is an agreement between nearly one hundred nations about what should happen when a child is orphaned, abandoned, or separated from their biological families.
The Hague relies on the principle of double subsidiarity to guide decisions about what is in the best interest of a child who has been orphaned or abandoned. Whenever possible, it is in the best interest of the child to grow up with their biological family. Vulnerable families have a right to receive support in order to parent their children. When a child is separated from their parents, the first step should be considering reunification with the family. If this is not possible, the child has the right to a new family through adoption. It is best for children to be adopted into a family in their own community and culture. When this is not an option, a child has a right to international adoption.
The Hague convention was developed to prevent corruption in international adoption. The treaty serves two purposes: to create a set of safeguards protecting the best interest of children and to develop a system of cooperation and communication between sending and receiving countries. The Hague convention is a minimum set of standards. To be considered in the Hague, a country must sign the treaty and implement adoption laws and procedures that meet the requirements of the treaty.
Under the Hague Convention, all adoptions should consider what is best for the child. Hague countries are required to set up central authorities to decide who can adopt and who needs to be adopted. Governments are also required to implement safeguards to prevent solicitation of birth families and trafficking of children for the purpose of international adoption. Yet every country that implements the Hague develops their own laws and procedures. This means that while all Hague countries meet the same minimum standards, the adoption process still varies from country to country.

Benjamin and Chantal, two little ones who moved home with their fathers.


Assuming I have power and internet over the next few days, Post two will be up tomorrow and Post three will be up on Tuesday.  They will continue to address questions around the Hague accreditation and what that means.  Please check back to continue this important series of posts!  

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