Hague Accreditation and Approval

COA is honored to work with the U.S. Department of State (the Department) to ensure that intercountry adoptions take place in the best interests of children and in accordance with the principles of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. COA has accredited intercountry adoption programs since 1987 and has been a strong supporter of the ratification of the Hague Convention for many years. In July 2006, the Department named COA as the only national accreditor for Hague Convention Accreditation and Approval, and COA accredited over 120 adoption service providers by April of 2008 when the Hague Convention first took effect in the United States.

For information about the meaning and value of accreditation, see the Accreditation Overview page.

Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Convention) is an international treaty created to ensure that intercountry adoptions are in the best interests of children and to prevent abduction, exploitation, sale, or trafficking of children.  The Convention generally requires that agencies and persons be accredited or approved to provide adoption services for intercountry adoptions when both countries involved are parties to the Convention.  The United States signed this treaty in March 1994.  For more information about the Convention and an up-to-date list of countries that are parties to the Convention, please visit the website for the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

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Intercountry Adoption Act

The Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA) was passed in October 2000, and serves as the implementing legislation for the United States.  The IAA names the U.S. Department of State (State Department) as the Central Authority for the United States and the federal agency responsible for implementing the Convention.  The IAA requires agencies and persons providing adoption services in cases involving Convention countries to be accredited or approved.  The State Department is required under the IAA to develop agreements with accrediting entities to conduct the accreditation and approval of adoption service providers.

The Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act (UAA) was signed into law in January of 2013.  The UAA applies the accreditation provisions of the IAA to agencies and persons providing adoption services in all cases, not just adoptions involving another country that is party to the Hague Convention.  By requiring all adoption service providers to receive and maintain the same accreditation under federal standards, families adopting internationally will have the assurance that regardless from where they adopt, the ASP they choose to work with will be in substantial compliance with the same ethical standards of practice and conduct.  The accreditation requirements of the UAA go into effect on July 14, 2014.

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Hague Regulations

The Department of State issued the final rule (Hague Regulations) that govern the accreditation and approval process on February 15, 2006.  The final rule establishes:

  •  the accreditation and approval standards for agencies and persons;
  •  requirements applicable to potential accrediting entities; and
  •  a framework for the Department's oversight of accrediting entities, agencies, and persons.

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Private Organization Accreditation

Catholic Charities alleviates human suffering and improves the quality of life of 100,000 people annually, regardless of religious background. A staff of 600 provides support and services related to housing, food, mental health, children's services, addiction treatment, and domestic violence services.


The Village for Families & Children, Inc.

Galo A. Rodriguez, M.P.H., President & CEO

COA Peer Reviewers demonstrated their expertise through their knowledge of COA standards as well as experience in the behavioral health field. In addition, COA’s seminars and tools were very helpful in guiding us through the accreditation process.
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