If you ask most people what The Hague is, chances are they will give you one of two replies…..
- Isn’t it a city in Holland?
- It’s…. Wait, isn’t it……. I don’t know.
There’s another “Hague” out there. And for those who are involved in international adoptions in any way, The Hague takes on an entirely different meaning. If you go to the 1993 Hague Convention website, here’s what they wrote as an introduction:
The Hague Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) protects children and their families against the risks of illegal, irregular, premature or ill-prepared adoptions abroad. This Convention, which operates through a system of national Central Authorities, reinforces the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Art. 21) and seeks to ensure that intercountry adoptions are made in the best interests of the child and with respect for his or her fundamental rights. It also seeks to prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in children.
Sounds really good, doesn’t it? Protecting children, protecting families, making sure adoptions are done right, all good.
So, then why do many people say that the Hague is a bad thing?
The way I see it, it’s pretty simple. Let me attempt to lay it out…..
- The first world countries have the resources to implement the rules, the procedures and such so following what the Hague outlines is a challenge but is by no means an overwhelming challenge.
- The third world – the countries in Africa, in Haiti, in Eastern Europe, in Central America – those countries don’t have the resources to handle the requirements of the Hague. Let’s say that it requires an increase of 100 additional staff who are trained in child social work. There might not be that many people in the country who can do that. Let alone, can the government train them and pay for the cost of increasing their staff?
So we have good outcomes but we have countries that don’t have the staff and can’t afford the staff to implement the new requirements. What does that lead to? Well, let me tell you a story……
A friend of mine worked, a while back, at an orphanage in South Africa. While she was working there, the South African government ratified the Hague. It shut adoptions down in South Africa for 5 years.
Yes, you read that right. It shut adoptions down for 5 years. Why?
Because it took that long for the government to staff up, train and pay for the staff necessary to meet the needs of the new requirements.
Long term, it does appear to be good for the kids and for the families but the reality is that the decrease in adoptions that we’ve talked about before is in part because attempting to implement the Hague before there is sufficient trained staff has drastically decreased the number of adoptions that are able to be completed.
The Hague – read it here.
The Hague – part of the political realities that are changing inter-country adoptions.
Now ask yourself, how many of the South African “orphans” lost a good chance at their future because they got “stuck” for 5 years in an orphanage? And how many of those could have stayed with their family should there have been an organization like The Apparent Project to help provide jobs and opportunities?
That’s the question – and then ask yourself, how can I be part of the solution?