GREENSBURG - Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Greensburg has received approval to continue to help families adopt children from other countries.
The agency received Hague accreditation through the Council on Accreditation (COA), as overseen by the U.S. State Department, to provide international adoption services in countries that have signed the Hague treaty.
Msgr. Raymond E. Riffle, managing director of Catholic Charities, said the agency received the four-year certificate Feb. 22. It is good through March 31, 2017.
"This is a very comprehensive process, and the Catholic Charities staff put in many hours to assure we are permitted to continue to facilitate connections with those international children and loving parents in the United States," Msgr. Riffle said.
"We are the only Catholic Charities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that has this accreditation," he said.
Hague accreditation attests that Catholic Charities is in substantial compliance with the Hague Convention Accreditation Standards.
Judy Modecki, director of coordinated services and development for Catholic Charities, said the accreditation allows the agency to continue to be involved in all aspects of adoption, which often involves several agencies in different states and countries.
"The primary purpose of the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 and the actual accreditation of agencies under Hague is to prevent the sale, abduction, exploitation and/or trafficking of children," Modecki said. "This is critical and essential to the best interests of the children. Prior to Hague, many countries took advantage of couples trying to adopt in their lands through various means of exploitation, bribery, collusion and a host of other things.
"The act prevents the countries who have signed on to the Hague from this exploitation (to the degree that it can be monitored)," she said.
Modecki said accreditation "simply ensures that agencies with this standard know and understand the most effective ways of handling foreign immigration of children and appropriate preparation of the adoptive parents."
Morgan Daugherty, coordinator of adoption/foster care services for Catholic Charities, said the local agency has provided services for 13 international adoptions since it first received accreditation in 2008.
The Hague process ensures that all professionals involved in the process from matching, to pre-adoptive visits, to the legal adoption, post placement and or post adoption services are held to the strictest of standards, she said, noting that Catholic Charities works closely with about seven other agencies during the adoption process.
"We service the entire diocese and all of western Pennsylvania … as far away as Erie," Daugherty said.
"Often there are agencies that are Hague accredited in their geographic area, but these agencies will not facilitate home studies or post-adoption work unless the client uses that agency as the sole agency," Daugherty said. "Therefore, Catholic Charities fills the gap, allowing families to work with out-of-state adoption matching agencies and using Catholic Charities to do the necessary local work."
In 1994 the U.S. signed the treaty and agreed to develop regulations and a monitoring process for adoption service providers in the U.S. that work with agencies in countries that signed on to the convention.
"This is monitored through the U.S. State Department and the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)," Modecki said. "The central authorities in foreign countries are responsible for their own monitoring."
In 2006, the U.S. State Department named COA as the only national accreditor for adoption service providers under the Hague Convention.
For more information about international adoptions, contact Morgan Daugherty, coordinator of adoption/foster care services for Catholic Charities, at 724-837-1840 or firstname.lastname@example.org or go to ccharitiesgreensburg.org.