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Hague Adoption Convention facts for kids

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Members of the Hague Adoption Convention (blue: members, purple: non-members; green: signatories to the convention)

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (or simply Hague Adoption Convention), provides certain protections to children. It guarantees the protection of children from child trafficking. It also guarantees them safe adoption and a quick adoption process.


In May 1993 the proposal was presented at the seventeenth session of The Hague Convention. It became effective in 1995. The United States ratified the Hague Adoption Convention in December of 2007. Forty-six countries had ratified the treaty as of May of 2002. Thirteen more had yet to ratify it. Many countries which have not ratified the Convention do not permit foreign adoptions of their children nor adoptions of foreign children. For example Muslim countries do not permit foreign adoptions.


Adopting children from one country into a family from another is a relatively new idea. It developed after World War II. By the 1970s it became a fairly common event. But it was soon recognized this was creating a number of legal and human problems. There were few domestic and international laws that adequately protected children's rights. The Hague Adoption Convention of 1993 addressed these concerns. The Convention gave the responsibility of providing the protection against child trafficking, safe adoption and a quick adoption process to the countries and to adoption agencies.

The convention also raised several ethical concerns. In a normal domestic adoption the child loses connections and identification with their biological family. In an international adoption a child may also lose identification with their nationality and ethnicity. Adoptions that span countries should be considered only after all efforts to place adopted children within their own country. UNICEF, by comparison, does not encourage international adoptions. They encourage nations to adopt within their own country.

The Future for international adoptions

There has been a sharp decline in international adoptions in the last few years. Romania, for one, has ended all foreign adoptions. Belarus and the Ukraine closed foreign adoptions for 2007. The 5000 adoptions from China in 2005 dropped to 4000 in 2006. Wars and natural disasters were the reasons for massive adoptions from the affected countries in the past. But the international community is no longer in favor of this as a solution. Adoptions from Africa are increasing, however. The number of Orphans from Liberia and Ethiopia have increased from 2006–2008. But the costs to adopt a child from another country have risen. This is due in part to the steps taken by the convention to prevent abuse of the system.

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