The Regulation of Intercountry Adoption


As of January 2006, the United States was the only major receiver of children through intercountry adoption that had not implemented the 1993 Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. The U.S. signed the Hague Convention in 1994, but did not pass implementing legislation until 2000. Regulations pursuant to the legislation were proposed in 2003, but final regulations did not go into effect until March 2006. The slow pace was partly the result of Congressional wrangling over designation of a regulator and partly the result of a prolonged conversation between the designated regulator and the adoption community over specific regulations.

Finalization of the regulation brings the Hague Convention into force in the United States, but the current system is inadequate to protect the rights of all children and families as the Hague Convention intends. Two parts of the regulations are problematic, especially in combination. First, only substantial, not strict, compliance is required of adoption providers. Second, the U.S. encourages competition between accreditors of adoption providers. We argue that the regulations will increase the costs of adoption services at the same time that quality, at best, will not improve. We conclude that regulation of adoption should be centralized in order to comply with the intent of the Hague Convention.


Economics | Family Law | Human Rights Law | Immigration Law | Law and Economics | Law and Society | Social Welfare Law

Date of this Version

May 2006