Compliance with the Hague Convention

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Convention) is the primary guide for Australia’s dealings with overseas countries about intercountry adoption.

What is the Hague Convention?

The Hague Convention aims to protect children and their families from illegal, irregular, premature or ill-prepared adoptions abroad.

A guiding principle of the Convention is that, whenever possible, a child should be raised by his or her birth family or extended family. If this is not possible, other forms of permanent family care in the child’s country of birth should be considered. Only after local solutions have been exhausted, should intercountry adoption be considered— and then only if it is in the child’s best interests.

The Convention also focuses on the need for countries to work together to prevent the abduction, sale, or trafficking of children.

The Hague Convention entered into force in Australia on 1 December 1998.

Does Australia only work with Hague Convention countries?

Australia only facilitates overseas adoptions if the principles and standards of the Hague Convention can be met, regardless of whether or not the partner country has signed the Convention.

Currently, ten of the 12 countries with which Australia has intercountry adoption arrangements are party to the Hague Convention. The exceptions are Taiwan and South Korea, though these countries have the same standards of, and are compliant with, the Hague Convention. South Korea is in the final stages of ratifying the Convention. Australia’s arrangement with Taiwan is through a bilateral arrangement, demonstrating practical compliance with, and implementation of, Hague Convention standards.

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