On July 14, 2014 a new law, the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act (UAA), goes into effect requiring all agencies and persons providing intercountry adoption services to become Hague accredited.
In the past, only those agencies and persons providing adoption services to/from the approximately 80 countries, that had enacted the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption, needed to become accredited. Now the UAA requires that any entity providing adoption services* to/from any country of origin (whether or not it is a member of the Hague Convention) be accredited, supervised or exempted under the Hague accreditation regulations.
With the accreditation deadline just one year away, it is critical for any agency, wishing to become accredited, to begin the process immediately, as it normally takes at least 12-14 months to become accredited. Time needs to be devoted to creating policies and procedures; a quality improvement program; staff training; working with supervised providers, etc., as well as allowing time to fit into the schedule of the accrediting body, Council on Accreditation.
Since 2008, when the Hague Convention went into effect in the US, adoption agencies who worked with non-Convention countries did not need to meet the accreditation requirements, which created a double standard for the treatment of children and families. On July 14, 2014, families adopting internationally will have the assurance that regardless from where they adopt, the adoption service provider (ASP), they choose to work with, will be in substantial compliance with the same ethical standards of practice and conduct.
It is important to note that ASPs not accredited, supervised or exempted by the regulations, may not provide any adoption services after July 14, 2014. For this reason the US Department of State encourages prospective adoptive families to consider the accreditation plans of their adoption service provider (ASP), if they begin adoption cases from this date forward. The Department of State recommends that families ask their ASP whether it intends to become accredited, as soon as possible. It is imperative that families learn how their ASP plans to ensure continuity in their case after the UAA goes into effect next July. If the ASP does not become accredited and the case is not completed before July 14, 2014, the ASP will be required to stop providing adoption services, until it can obtain accreditation or otherwise meet the requirements of the UAA.
A list of currently accredited adoption service providers can be found on the Department of State website.
For more information on Hague accreditation see Intro to Hague Intercountry Adoption Accreditation.
*The definition of adoption services includes:
- Identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption;
- Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption;
- Conducting an adoption home study and background report on the child;
- Making non-judicial determinations of the best interests of a child and the whether an adoptive placement is an appropriate match;
- Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption; or
- When necessary because of a disruption before final adoption, assuming custody of the child and providing child care or any other social service pending an alternative placement.