CRS Report for Congress
Hague Convention Implementation Legislation:
Comparison of H.R. 2909, S. 682,
and Administration Draft
October 18, 1999
Douglas Reid Weimer
Legislative Attorney
American Law Division

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

Hague Convention Implementation Legislation:
Comparison of H.R. 2909, S. 682,
and Administration Draft
The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect
of Intercountry Adoption (“Convention”) establishes uniform standards and
procedures for the international adoption of children. The United States became a
signatory to the Convention on March 31, 1994. In order to implement the
provisions of the Convention, each signatory nation must enact domestic legislation
to fulfill the treaty requirements. At the present time, several different versions of
the implementing legislation are being considered: H.R. 2909, the “Intercountry
Adoption Act of 1999;” S. 682, the “Intercountry Adoption Convention
Implementation Act of 1999;” and the companion bill to S. 682, H.R. 2342. In
addition, a draft bill entitled “Intercountry Adoption Act” which is known as the
“Administration bill” was prepared by the State Department and transmitted to the
President in June 1998. It has not been introduced. This report compares and
analyzes certain provisions of H.R. 2909, S. 682. and the Administration bill.

In troduction ......................................................1
Comparison and Analysis of Three Bills................................2
Conclusion ......................................................21

Hague Convention Implementation
Legislation: Comparison of H.R. 2909,
S. 682, and Administration Draft
Interest is currently focusing on legislation which would implement certain
requirements of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation
in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (“Convention”). The United States became a
signatory to the Convention on March 31, 1994. The Convention was transmitted to
the Senate for its advice and consent on June 11, 1998.1 The purpose of the
Convention is to establish uniform standards and procedures for the international
adoption of children. Through the establishment of such uniform procedures, the
Convention will attempt to protect the rights and interests of the adoptive children,
the birth parents, and the adoptive parents involved in intercountry adoptions. The
Convention mandates that each signatory country establish a national Central
Authority. The Central Authority is to oversee the Convention’s implementation in
the signatory country.2 The Convention has three primary features. First, it
reinforces the protection of children’s rights concerning international adoption.
Second, it establishes a mechanism for the cooperation of signatory countries in the
areas of international adoption. Third, it ensures the recognition of adoptions
undertaken and certified through the Convention provisions.
To be able to implement the provisions of the Convention, each signatory
country must enact domestic legislation which will fulfill the treaty requirements.
Three different versions of the implementing legislation are being considered. H.R.
2909, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 1999 (“House bill”) was introduced by
Representative Gilman on September 22, 1999.3 S. 682, the Intercountry Adoption

1 On June 11, 1998, the Convention was read for the first time in the Senate, and together
with the accompanying papers, was transferred to the Senate Committee on Foreignth
Relations. See S. Treaty Doc. 105-51, 105 Cong., 2d Sess. (1998). The Senate did not taketh
action on the Convention in the 105 Congress. It is anticipated that the Convention
ratification process will occur simultaneously with the consideration of the implementing
2 See, Treaty Doc. 105-51 at v-xv for a summary of the provisions of the Convention.
3 The bill has been referred to the House International Relations Committee, the House
Judiciary Committee, the House Education and Workforce Committee, and the House
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims. Hearings on the bill are scheduled for October
20, 1999, before the House International Relations Committee. The bill is expected to be
sequentially referred to the House Ways and Means Committee (pursuant to executive

Convention Implementation Act of 1999 (“Senate bill”) was introduced on March 23,
1999 by Senator Helms.4 A companion bill to S. 682 — H.R. 2342 — was
introduced by Representative Burr on June 24, 1999.5 As the provisions of H.R.

2342 are identical to those of S. 682, H.R. 2342 will not be examined independently.

A draft bill, entitled the Intercountry Adoption Act (Administration bill) was drafted
by the U.S. State Department and was transmitted to the President in June 1998. The
bill has not been introduced and its future is uncertain.
Comparison and Analysis of Three Bills
This report provides a comparison of certain selected provisions contained in
the different versions of the legislation.6 The following chart compares and contrasts
the various subject provisions in the three pieces of legislation.
1. The AccreditingSec. 203(a)(1)Sec. 202(a)(1)Sec. 201
The Secretary ofThe Secretary ofThe Secretary of
Health and HumanState shallHealth and Human
Services, with thedesignateServices, in
concurrence of theaccrediting entities.coordination with the
Secretary of State,Secretary of State,
is authorized toshall carry out the
enter intoaccreditation process.

agreements with
qualified entities.
3 (...continued)
communication from the Speaker’s table, Communication 02856, July 1, 1999).
4 The bill was referred to the Foreign Relations Committee. To date, the bill has not
emerged from Committee. The Committee held hearings on the bill on October 5, 1999.
5 The bill was referred to the House International Relations Committee, the House Judiciary
Committee, and the House Immigration and Claims Subcommittee. To date, it has not
emerged from Committee consideration.
6 The subject topics which are considered in this report were determined through discussions
between CRS staff and Congressional staff. A determination was made to analyze the
eleven subject areas which are discussed below. The bills contain various other topics
which could be the subject of comparison and analysis.

2. Roles ofSec. 101(a)(2)Sec. 101(a)(2)Sec. 101
Officials;Secretary of StateThe Secretary of State
shall serve as headSec. 101(b)shall establish or
Responsibilities inof the CentralState Departmentdesignate an office
the accreditationAuthority of thepersonnelwithin the Department
and/or approvalUnited States.performing Centralof State as the United
processAuthority functionsStates Central
are required to haveAuthority, which shall
3-5 years ofperform such Central
experience inAuthority functions as
internationalthe Secretary of State
adoptions.may delegate to it.
———————— ———————— ————————
Sec. 102 Sec. 102—
Sec. 102
Responsibilities ofNearly identical
the Secretary oflanguage.Secretary of State
State: liaison,responsible for U.S.
informationperformance of
exchange, otherCentral Authority
responsibilities, functions.
establish a case
registry (withSec. 103
Attorney General)
Secretary of State
Sec. 103Sec. 104shall have
responsibility for
Responsibilities ofSame language.liaison, information
Attorney General: exchange, and other
concerning filing ofresponsibilities.
applications by
prospectiveSec. 105
adoptive parents.
Secretary of State
shall monitor
individual adoptions;
establish adoption
registry in
coordination with
Secretary of HHS and
the Commissioner of
the Immigration and

2. (Cont.) Roles ofSec. 104(a)Sec. 105(a)No annual report
Government requirement.
Officials;Annual report toAnnual report to
Congress shall beCongress shall be
Responsibilities inprepared by theprepared by the
the accreditationSecretary of State,Secretary of State;
and/or approvalin consultation withmore information
processthe Secretary ofrequired in the
Health and Humanreport than required
Services, thein the report
Attorney Generalrequired by the
and otherHouse bill.
———————— ———————— —————————
Sec. 201Sec. 202(a)Sec. 201
The Secretary ofThe Secretary ofThe Secretary of HHS,
Health and HumanState shallin coordination with
Services indesignatethe Secretary of State,
coordination withaccrediting entities. shall carry out the
the Secretary offunctions prescribed
State, shall carryThe Senate billby the Convention
out accreditation ofdoes not containwith respect to the
agencies andprovisions for theaccreditation of
approval of personsapproval process.agencies and approval
to provide adoptionof other persons to
services in the U.S.provide adoption
in Convention(No responsibilityservices, and such
adoptions.for the Secretary ofother functions under
Health and Humanthe Convention as
Sec. 203(a)(1)Services).may be provided for in
this Act or in
The Secretary ofimplementing
HHS, with theregulations.
concurrence of the
Secretary of State,Sec. 204
shall enter intoaccreditation/approval
agreements with
various entities toSimilar to language in
perform adoption-Sec. 203(a)(1) of
related services. House bill.


2. (Cont.) Roles ofSec. 203(d)

Officials;Fees — seeFees — seeFees — see discussion
discussion belowdiscussion belowbelow (Item 7).
Responsibilities in(Item 7).(Item 7).
the accreditation—————————————————————————
and/or approvalSec, 204(a)(1)Sec.203(a)(1)Sec. 203(a)(1)
The Secretary ofThe Secretary ofThe Secretary of HHS,
HHS, withState shall establishwith the concurrence
concurrence ofby regulationof the Secretary of
Secretary of State,standards andState, shall establish
shall prescribeprocedures to beby regulation
standards andused by accreditingstandards and
procedures forentities for theprocedures for
agencyaccreditation ofaccreditation of
accreditation orpersons for theagencies, and approval
approval of personspurpose ofof other persons, to
to provide adoptionarrangingperform functions
services.Conventionunder the Convention
adoptions.regarding Hague
———————— ———————— —————————
Sec. 205Sec. 204Sec. 205
The Secretary ofThe Secretary ofSimilar to House bill.

HHS to monitor,State to monitor,
suspend, or cancelsuspend, or cancel
the designation ofthe designation of
an accreditingan accrediting
entity, if the entityentity, if the entity
is substantially outis substantially out
of compliance.of compliance.
The Secretary ofThe Secretary of
HHS may suspendState may
or cancel thetemporarily or
accreditation orpermanently debar
approval of ana person from
agency or person ifaccreditation.
the agency or(There is no
person isremedial action
substantially out ofagainst an
compliance, andaccredited person
the accreditingshort of
entity has failed ordebarment.)

2. (Cont.) Roles ofrefused to take
Government appropriate
Officials;corrective action.
If deficiencies are
Responsibilities incorrected, the
the accreditationSecretary may have
and/or approvalthe suspension
process restored.
The Secretary of
HHS may
temporarily or
permanently debar
an agency or person
from accreditation
or approval.
———————— ———————— —————————
No separate reportNo separate reportSec. 206
on disruptions; parton disruptions; part
of annual report. of annual report. Secretary of HHS and
See Sec. 104.See Sec. 105Secretary of State to
monitor and study
adoption disruptions.
———————— ———————— —————————
Sec. 301Sec. 301Sec. 301
Secretary of StateSimilar.Similar.
to issue certificates
to adoptive citizen
parent that adoption
was granted; or that
legal custody of
child has been
granted to the
parent for purposes
of emigration and
———————— ———————— —————————
Sec. 302(a)(3)Similar.Similar.

Requires AttorneySec. 302(b)
General’s oversightcontains
that proper carerequirement for
will be furnished toSecretary of State
a child if admittedto certify to the
to the UnitedAttorney General of


2. (Cont.) Roles ofSec. 303(c)Sec. 303(d).Sec. 303(c)

Officials;The Secretary ofSimilar.Similar.
State shall issue a
Responsibilities incertificate dealing
the accreditationwith the adoption
and/or approvalof a child
process emigrating.
———————— ———————— —————————
Sec. 304(b)Sec. 305(b)Sec. 305(b)
Establishes recordSimilar.Similar.
keeping and
responsibilities of
the Secretary of
State concerning
vacating of
Sec. 304(c)Sec. 305(c)Sec. 305(c)
Addresses AttorneySimilar.Similar.
General’s authority
to revoke the
naturalization of
child and related
———————— ———————— —————————
Sec. 401(a)(1)Sec. 401(a)(1)Sec. 401(a)(1)
Secretary of State,Similar.The Secretary of State
in consultation withand the Commissioner
the Attorneyof the Immigration
General, shall issueand Naturalization
regulations toService shall establish
establishprocedures for the
procedures andretention and
requirements inidentification of
accord with theHague adoption
Convention for therecords.

preservation of
adoption records.


2. (Cont.) Roles ofSec. 401(d)(2)Sec. 401(e)No similar provision.

Officials;Secretary of HHS,Similar.
in consultation with
Responsibilities inthe Secretary of
the accreditationState and the
and/or approvalAttorney General
processshall issue
identifying and
regarding the child.
———————— ———————— —————————
Sec. 404Sec. 404Sec. 404
The Secretary ofThe Secretary ofThe Secretary of HHS
HHS and theState may impose aand the Secretary of
Secretary of Statecivil money penaltyState are to coordinate
are to coordinatepursuant to suchwith the Attorney
with the Attorneyprocedures as mayGeneral regarding the
General regardingbe agreed upon byimposition of money
the imposition ofthe Secretary andpenalties for statutory
money penalties forthe Attorneyviolations.
statutory violations.General.
———————— ———————— —————————
Sec. 502See, Sec. 304See, Sec. 304.
The Secretary ofSec. 304 similar.Sec. 304 similar; not
State may establishas comprehensive.

by regulation
procedures for the
adoption of
individuals related
by blood or
marriage, in cases
subject to the
The Secretary of
State is also given
waiver authority for
provisions of the
legislation and

3. Annual Reportlegislation and
Requirementregulations in the
interest of justice or
to prevent grave
physical harm to
the child.
________________ ________________ __________________
Sec. 104Sec. 105No comparable

Secretary of State,Similar provision;
in consultation withhowever, sole
Secretary of HHSresponsibility of
and AttorneySecretary of State;
General, is requiredand additional
to submit an annualreporting
report to Congressrequirements.
concerning various
issues of

4. ConformingSec. 302Sec. 302Sec. 302
amendments to the
Immigration andSubsection (a)Similar language.Similar language.

Naturalization Actamends section
101(b) of the
Immigration and
Nationality Act
(INA) to add
children adopted in
Hague Convention
countries, or
emigrating from
such countries for
purposes of their
adoption in the
United States, as
new categories of
children who may
be classified as
immediate relatives
of U.S. citizens for
purposes. These
children would not
need to meet the
definition of
“orphan” under the
INA, but other
requirements of
current law would
continue to apply,
including those
relating to age and
U.S. citizenship of
the adoptive
Subsection (b)
amends section
204(d) of the INA
to provide that, in
the case of a
adoption, an
immigrant visa
shall not be issued

to a child as an
immediate relative
of the prospective
adoptive parent
unless the Secretary
of State has
certified that the
central authority of
the child’s country
of origin has given
notice that the child
has been adopted,
or custody for
purposes of
adoption has been
granted, in
accordance with the
Subsection (c) is a
amendment to the
definition of
“parent” under the

5. Definition ofSec. 303(a)Sec. 303(b)Sec. 303(b)

adoptive parent(s)
for children“...prospectiveThe child will be
emigrating from theadoptive parent oradopted by a“...prospective
United Statesparents....”married man andadoptive parent or
woman. Also:parents....”


6. Waiting periodSec. 303(a)(1)(B)Sec. 303(b)No provision
to adopt children
emigrating from theA determination(C) Twelve months
United Statesmust be made thathave elapsed since
the child cannotthe person made
expeditiously beefforts to place the
placed for adoptionchild in the United
in the UnitedStates.

7. FeesSec. 203(d)Sec. 202(d)Sec. 204(d)

Accrediting entityAccrediting entitiesAccrediting entities
may assess feesauthorized to assessare authorized to
against agenciesfees in amountsassess fees against
and personsapproved by Sec. ofagencies and persons
seekingState againstseeking/maintaining
accreditation/persons seeking oraccreditation/approval
approval; Secretarymaintainingin amounts approved
of HHS mayaccreditation. by the Secretary.
approve fees ifCertain standards
certain conditionsare set. AnAvailability — Fees
are met; accrediting entityremitted to the
accrediting entity isshall not provideSecretary of HHS
to collect fees,discounted fees forshall be credited to the
remit certaincertain persons forappropriate current
amounts collected accreditation foraccount of the
to Secretary ofpurposes ofSecretary and be
HHS. Secretary isintercountryavailable only for
to deposit inadoption.activities under the
Treasury of theAct. Such amounts
U.S. all amountsshall remain available
remitted.until expended.


7. (Cont.) FeesSec. 403(b)Sec. 403(b)Sec. 403(b)

Secretary of StateSimilar provisions. Similar provisions.

may charge a fee to
cover costs of newHowever, Sec.
or enhanced403(c) provides the
services that will berestriction that no
undertaken to meetfunds may be made
the Act’savailable to an
requirements. Suchaccrediting entity to
fees will becarry out the
retained andpurposes of this
deposited as anAct.
collection to any
State Dept.
appropriation to
recover the costs of
providing services.


8. Privacy IssuesSec. 402(b)Sec. 401(b)Sec. 401(b)

Certain information(1) Identifying(1) Except for
from Conventioninformation inadministrative
adoption recordsConventionpurposes, identifying
may not beadoption recordsinformation shall not
disclosed, except asshall not bebe disclosed, unless
authorized by thisdisclosed except forthe person to whom
Act or State law ofadministrativethe information
the State in whichpurposes.pertains consents in
the adoptivewriting to such
parents live at time(2) Privacy Actdisclosure; or unless
of adoption; application; the person is
however, such(A) an individualdeceased.
information may bewho has access to
disclosed amongrecords under the(2) Privacy Act
the AttorneyPrivacy Act, shallapplication;
General, centralhave that right only(A) Same as Senate
authorities,to the extent suchbill.
accreditedright is not(B) Same as Senate
agencies, andrestricted by thebill.
approved persons,Act;
to the extent(B) Disclosure ofSec. 401(b)(3)
necessary toadoption recordsOther limitation to
administer theshall be restricteddisclosure:
Convention or theby the Privacy Act(A) no disclosure to
Act.and subject tochild under 18;
restrictions under(B) disclosure to other
the Act;persons subject to
(C) A child subjectdiscretion;
to a Conventioninformation may be
adoption recorddisclosed at the
shall not havediscretion of the Sec.
access to suchof State or the
information unlessCommissioner of the
that child is at leastImmigration and
18. Naturalization
________________ __________________________________
Sec. 404(c)Sec. 401(c)Sec. 401(c)
Freedom ofInformation inFreedom of
Information Actrecords of StateInformation
and Privacy Act,Dept. andexemption — similar
shall not apply toImmigration andprovision.

disclosure ofNaturalization

8.(Cont.) Privacyinformation inconcerning
issues Convention Convention
adoption records.adoptions shall not
be subject to
disclosure under
the Freedom of
Information Act
________________ ________________ __________________
No similarSec. 401(d)Sec. 401(d)
Information fromSimilar provision.
adoption records
may be disclosed
by State
Department, any
U. S. official
exercising Central
functions, and any
accredited person if
necessary to
administer the
Convention or Act.
________________ ________________ __________________
Sec 404(d)Sec. 401(e)Sec. 2(k)
Identifyi ng Identifyi ng Identifyi ng
information isinformation meansinformation means
defined broadly;adoption recordany information in a
does not includeinformation otherHague adoption
health, social orthan health, social,record that could
genetic backgroundor geneticidentify a prospective
of an individual ifbackground of theadoptive parent,
no reasonable basischild which doesadoptive parent, birth
to believe that suchnot identify theparent or grandparent,
information wouldchild. Regulationsor sibling related by
be used to identifyto be prescribed byblood of a child who
the child, birthSecretary of HHS,is or has been the
parent, or otherin consultation withsubject of a Hague
birth relative. Sec.Secretary of Stateadoption.

of HHS, inand Attorney
consultation withGeneral.
Sec. of State and
Attorney General to
issue regulations.


9. ProvisionsSec. 501.Sec. 501. Sec. 502.

The ConventionNo provision ofNo provision of
and this Act shallFederal, State, orFederal, State, or local
not be construed tolocal law shall belaw shall be
preempt anyconsideredconsidered preempted
provision of thepreempted by theby this Convention,
law of any State orConvention, thisthis Act, or
politicalAct, orimplementing
subdivision thereof,implementingregulations unless
or prevent a Stateregulations unlessclearly inconsistent
or politicalspecified in thetherewith.
subdivision thereofAct.
from enacting any. . . . . . . .
provision of law
with respect to the(c) STATE(c) STATE
the Convention orLAWS. — Nothing—
this Act, except toin the Convention
the extent that suchor Act precludesSimilar provision.

provision of Stateany State from
law is inconsistentrequiring that a
with theperson or entity be
Convention or thislicensed by the
Act, and then onlyState as a condition
to the extent of theof providing
inconsistency. adoption-related


10. EnforcementSec. 404.Sec. 404.Sec. 404.

This sectionSimilar language,Similar to Senate bill.

provides for civilexcept civil money
money penalties ofpenalties would be
not more thannot more than
$25,000 for a first$5,000 for a first
violation and notviolation and not
more than $50,000more than $10,000
for each subsequentfor each succeeding
violation againstviolation. Criminal
any person who (1)money penalties
provides adoptionwould be not more
services in thethan $10,000.
United States in
connection with
adoptions without
proper accreditation
or approval; (2)
violates the privacy
contained in section
401 or any
regulation issued
under that section;
or (3) provides
false statements or
inducements to
obtain consent to
adoption or the
relinquishment of
parental rights or to
influence a decision
of an accrediting
entity or any entity
performing a
central authority
function. The
section also
provides for
criminal penalties
or not more than
imprisonment for

10. (Cont.)up to one year, or
Enforcement both, for knowing
and willful
violations of
paragraphs (2) or
(3) of subsection

11. Recognition/Sec. 301.Sec. 301.Sec. 301.

voiding of
adoptions Provides that aSimilar.Similar.

certificate from the
Secretary of State
shall be treated by
Federal and State
agencies, courts,
and other public
and private persons
and entities as
conclusive and
shall constitute the
required under the
Immigration and
Nationality Act for
immigrating to the
U.S. Also provides
that a final
adoption in another
country, certified
by the Secretary of
State, shall be
recognized as a
final valid adoption
for purposes of all
Federal, State, and
local laws of the


11. (Cont.)Sec. 304.Sec. 305.Sec. 305.

voiding ofProhibits a StateSimilar, except thatSimilar to Senate bill.

adoptionscourt from vacatingState courts would
a final adoptionbe permitted to
decree enteredvacate a final
pursuant to theadoption decree
Convention unlessonly if less than
the decree wastwo years had
granted by a Statepassed since the
court; the courtadoptive parents
finds that theobtained custody of
required consent ofthe child, and all
the birth parent orother specified
biological relativeconditions were
was not obtained ormet.
was obtained
inappropriately, or
the adoptive
parent’s consent
was obtained by
fraud; voiding the
adoption is in the
child’s best
interests; and the
adoptive parents
have an opportunity
to be heard.
Provides that a
decision by another
Convention country
to vacate an
adoption decree
originally issued in
the country
pursuant to the
Convention shall be
recognized as valid
in the United States
upon receipt by the
Secretary of State
of notification that
the conditions
described above
were satisfied.

11. (Cont.)The vacating of
Recognition/an adoption
voiding ofdecree in a case
adoptionssubject to the
Convention shall
not be construed
to void or
prohibit the
naturalization of
the child as a
U.S. citizen. This
provision shall
not be construed
to limit the
authority under
the Immigration
and Nationality
Act to revoke the
______________ ______________ _____________________
Sec. 501.Sec. 306.Sec. 501.
Provides forIdentical.Identical.

recognition in the
U.S. of adoptions
between two
other Convention
countries that
meet the
requirements of
the Convention
and that became
final before the
date of entry into
force of the
Convention for
the U.S.

This chart has analyzed the differences and similarities between the various
legislative proposals to implement the provisions of the Hague Convention. The
most significant differences between the House bill, the Senate bill, and the
Administration other bills appear to be in the respective roles of the Secretary of
State and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the definitions of adoptive
parents for children emigrating from the United States, the fee structure, and privacy