The Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000: The United States' Ratification of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children, and Its Meager Effect on International Adoption

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ABSTRACT

This Note explores the effect of the United States' ratification of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Convention) via passage of the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA). Through intercountry adoption, countless children have been given homes and opportunities in the U.S. that would not have been available to them in their countries of origin. With the increased popularity of intercountry adoption, however, have come tragic consequences for many children in foreign countries, who are exploited by those involved in the adoption process. This Note contends that the IAA, as currently written, does not sufficiently address these problems. After examining the history of intercountry adoption, the Hague Convention, and the IAA, the Note proposes certain changes in the IAA that would help combat the problems posed by intercountry adoption and allow its beneficial aspects to continue.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  I. INTRODUCTION
 II. THE DEVELOPMENT OF INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION
     DURING THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: A SOLUTION
     BORN OUT OF TRAGEDY, ITS HARMS, AND THE
     ATTEMPTS TO HEAL THEM
     A. The Role of National Disaster and
        Hardship in Intercountry Adoption
     B. The Harmful Results of the High Demand
        for Intercountry Adoption
     C. Regulation of Intercountry Adoption: The
        Hague Convention on Protection of Children
        and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry
        Adoption and the United States' Attempt
        to Implement with the Intercountry
        Adoption Act of 2000
        1. International Recognition and
           Regulation: The Stepping Stones
           for the Hague Convention
        2. The U.S. Implementation of the
           Hague Convention: The Intercountry
           Adoption Act of 2000
III. THE U.S. TAKES FINAL STEPS TOWARD
     IMPLEMENTING THE INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION
     ACT
     A. The U.S. State Department Regulations
     B. The Effects of the IAA Once the Hague
        Convention is Ratified
 IV. SOLUTION
  V. CONCLUSION

I. INTRODUCTION

On December 26, 2004, an underwater earthquake off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra caused a tsunami tidal wave that devastated countries across Southeast Asia. (1) The effects of the tsunami were felt as far as three thousand miles away on the eastern coast of Africa (2) and resulted in approximately 216,000 deaths spanning eleven countries across Africa and Asia (3) As news of the tragedy reached the rest of the world, many people were touched by the vast numbers of children left orphaned by the natural disaster. (4) The U.S. State Department and international adoption organizations fielded calls pouring in from U.S. families interested in providing homes for the orphaned children. (5)

The need to identify and reunite family members, the variance in adoption procedures in different countries, and a desire to protect the children from mistreatment made adoption of the young victims of the tsunami impractical in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, and many of the countries affected by the disaster shut down their borders to adoption altogether. (6) However, the tsunami disaster is one recent example in a history of economic, social, and political crises that have facilitated the advance of intercountry adoption in the United States. (7) U.S. families were prompted to adopt children from war-damaged countries following World War II, as well as after the Korean and Vietnam wars. (8) The end of the Communist reign of Nicolae Ceausescu and the fall of the Soviet Union caused an influx of adopted children from Romania and Russia. Because of government-imposed family planning restrictions, China has ranked either first or second in number of children adopted into the United States each year for the past decade. (9)

Proponents of intercountry adoption advocate the process for its ability to provide children with permanent homes when such homes are not available to them in their countries of origin. …