II. Code of Practice for Accredited Bodies
The Code of Practice for Accredited Bodies is issued by the Director of Social Welfare (DSW) with delegated power conferred by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare for the purpose pursuant to section 32(b) and (d) of the Adoption Ordinance .
The aim is to set out the criteria, principles and guidelines that apply to the Accredited Bodies pursuant to section 26(1) to (6) in performing adoption services pertaining to local and inter-country adoption, as well as intra-country adoption where applicable.
The criteria are based on four international documents and three local documents.
- The 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Inter-country Adoption (the “1993 Hague Inter-country Adoption Convention”) and Guides to Good Practice, as well as other relevant documents endorsed by the Special Commission meetings on the practical operation of the Convention or published by the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law from time to time;
- The 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child;
- The 1986 United Nations Declaration on Social and Legal Principles relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children, with Special Reference to Foster Placement and Adoption Nationally and Internationally;
- The 1996 International Council of Social Welfare Guidelines for Practice on National and Inter-country Adoption and Foster Family Care; and The Child’s Right to Grow Up in a Family;
Except with the written consent of DSW, no advertisement shall be published indicating-
- that the parent or guardian of an infant desires to cause the infant to be adopted;
- that a person desires to adopt an infant; or
- that any person is willing to make arrangements for the adoption of an infant.
As the HKSAR is a party to the 1993 Hague Inter-country Adoption Convention, the HKSAR is obliged to follow the four general principles of the Convention, namely:
- Ensuring adoptions take place in the best interests of the child and with respect for the child’s fundamental rights, including subsidiarity (see note), non-discrimination and measures supporting the ‘best interests’ principle;
- establishing safeguards to prevent the abduction, sale or trafficking in children for adoption, including protection of families, combating the abduction, sale and trafficking of children, ensuring that proper consent is given, and preventing improper financial gain and corruption;
- establishing co-operation between States, including co-operation between Central Authorities, co-operation regarding Convention procedures, and co-operation to prevent abuse and avoidance of the Convention; and
- ensuring the authorisation of competent authorities, including Competent Authorities, Central Authorities, Accredited Bodies and Approved (non-accredited) Persons.
Note: According to The Implementation and Operation of the 1993 Hagus Intercountry Adoption Convention: Guide to Good Practice, “subsidiarity” means that States Party to the Convention recognize that a child should be raised by his or her birth family or extended family whenever possible. If that is not possible or practicable, other forms of permanent family care in the country of origin should be considered. Only after due consideration has been given to national solutions should intercountry adoption be considered, and then only if it is in the child’s best interests. Intercountry adoption serves the child’s best interests if it provides a loving permanent family for the child in need of a home. Intercountry adoption is one of a range of care options which may be open to children in need of a family.