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Abstract

In the last five years, Americans have adopted nearly seventy thousand children from foreign countries. The trend of intercountry adoption, “the process by which a married couple or single individual of one country adopts a child from another country,” is representative of the new globalized world, where families are formed and dissolved beyond the bounds of national borders. Although intercountry adoption has enabled many adoptive parents to form loving families and provide caring living environments for countless children, intercountry adoption is not without its share of problems. Corruption and abuse, such as child trafficking, have in many cases marred the process of intercountry adoption. These impediments to safe intercountry adoption led the international community to pass the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption in 1993. By signing the Convention, countries agree to “ensure that intercountry adoptions are made in the best interest of the child and with respect for his or her fundamental rights, and to prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in children.” The Convention requires its members, who have signed and ratified the treaty, to follow certain protocols and procedures for intercountry adoptions between two countries that are members to the Convention. However, the Convention does not prohibit member countries from engaging in intercountry adoptions with nonmember countries. Thus, although the United States officially joined the Convention on December 12, 2007, and the Convention’s rules went into effect on April 1, 2008, the United States still allows intercountry adoptions from countries that are nonmembers to the Convention. This Comment will examine the Convention in the context of intercountry adoption in the United States. Specifically, this Comment will focus on the effect that permitting the United States to continue intercountry adoption with nonmember countries has on attaining the Convention’s goals. This Comment will argue that to effectuate the goals of the Convention, the United States must encourage nonmember countries to join the Convention and must eventually cease intercountry adoptions with nonmember countries that refuse to join. But to promote the best interests of the prospective adoptive children in nonmember countries, such a cessation must be done through a long-term, structured withdrawal, allowing nonmember countries time to develop their adoption infrastructure.