Original Paper

Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 106-119

First online:

Does the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption Adequately Protect Orphaned and Vulnerable Children and Their Families?

  • Karen Smith RotabiAffiliated withSchool of Social Work, Virginia Commonwealth University Email author 
  • , Judith L. GibbonsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Saint Louis University

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The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, designed to protect the best interests of the child in intercountry adoption, has been signed by 83 nations. We evaluate both the strengths and the weaknesses of the Convention in achieving this purpose and also in protecting a second vulnerable population, birth families. A case study example of the United States’ implementation of the Hague requirements reveals several weaknesses with respect to non-Convention countries as sending nations, financial oversight, and oversight of foreign collaborators. International birth families, especially birth mothers giving consent to an adoption, are often vulnerable because of a lack of power and resources, as well as different cultural understandings of the nature of family and adoption. We conclude that in order to protect vulnerable children and birth families, individual sending and receiving countries need to supplement the Hague Convention with specific, contextually appropriate laws and regulations.


Intercountry adoption Orphan Vulnerable Children Birth mother Hague convention