By Sarah Mraz
U.S. adoption agencies must receive Hague Accreditation on or before April 1,2008 (today), if they wish to continue providing inter-country adoption services through countries that have signed and enacted the Hague Convention.
On Feb. 28, Wide Horizons for Children (http://www.whfc.org/) was among the first agencies to be officially approved by the Council on Accreditation (COA) as a national adoption service provider. Accreditation allows Wide Horizons for Children to work with families adopting from other countries that are party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children. This recognition demonstrates the organization's commitment to the children and families both here and abroad.
For Wide Horizons, these countries include China, Colombia, India, Philippines and Guatemala (which is in the process of altering their child welfare system to become Hague compliant).
Adoption programs in non-Hague countries are not affected by this accreditation.
So what happens if my agency isn't accredited by April 1?
Families working with non-accredited agencies who have adoptions pending in Hague countries that were started prior to April 1 can be"grandfathered" and processed to completion as a non-Hague case, as long as both countries agree (U.S. regulations already agree, but the other country could refuse).
What if I/We Start the Adoption Process on April 1 or later?
Families applying to an agency after April 1, 2008 would need to be sure their selected agency meets Hague requirements in order to do an adoption in a Hague country after April 1, 2008.
Accreditation is on-going, and therefore other agencies will be added to this list in the coming months.
Here is a list to the United States State Department's list of all accredited agencies: http://www.travel.state.gov/family/adoption/convention/convention_4169.html
More info is available on the Wide Horizons for Children Web site http://whfc.org/adoption/hague.htm
or at The Council on Accreditation (COA)'s Web site: http://www.coanet.org/.
About Wide Horizons For Children: Wide Horizons For Children is one of the largest private, non-profit adoption and child welfare agencies in the United States. The agency has placed over ten thousand children from 53 countries with American citizens since its founding in 1974. WHFC’s humanitarian aid programs have donated over $10 million in support of children around the world. (www.whfc.org)
Sarah Mraz is program director for Wide Horizons for Children, whose central office is located in Waltham.