Statistics on Irish international adoptions were released yesterday in the Independent. The article said:
- In 2008, there were 397 International adoptions in Ireland.
- Vietnam was the most popular country with 182 adoptions.
- There were 117 babies adopted from Russia, and 26 from Ethiopia.
- The Adoption Bill 2009 is due to be published later this year. The Government will ratify the Hague Convention meaning that Irish couples will only be allowed to adopt from countries who have also ratified the convention, or who have state to state agreements with Ireland.
- Around 275 couples have been approved to adopt babies from Vietnam, but the bilateral agreement was suspended on May 1. Minister for Children Barry Andrew is currently asking Vietnam to re-open adoptions to Ireland on an interim basis.
According to the Adoption Board of Ireland, Vietnam stopped accepting applications from Irish couples on April 1, 2009, and the adoption agreement between Ireland and Vietnam expired on May 1, 2009. Any Irish family who did not receive a referral before May 1, 2009, will not be able to adopt until a new agreement is reached.
Critics of Ireland’s Children’s Minister Barry Andrews argued that Andrews did not give adequate attention to the development of a new adoption agreement. However, Andrews cited concerns over adoption procedures and reports on adoption abuses by the United States government. A statement by the Department of Health and Children said,
In light of concerns raised by other countries and which emerged during 2008, the Government decided it was necessary to seek a strengthening of the existing agreement with Vietnam. With the publication of the Adoption Bill, 2009, it was also considered necessary to ensure that both the content of a new agreement and its implementation would meet the minimum standards set in that Bill and under the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption.
An article in the Irish Times says,
Mr. Andrews said he could not discuss the details of the negotiations with the Vietnamese government, but confirmed that national oversight of the process was one of the issues under discussion.
He said another was clarity in the level of fees paid by parents, and where those fees went. The Government would insist there were no cash payments and that money was lodged to identifiable bank accounts.
He said two delegations from the Department of Health had visited Vietnam last year and had prepared a comprehensive report detailing their concerns, which provided the basis for the current negotiations.
“The issues are not insurmountable, but they have to be resolved,” he said. “I do believe the Vietnamese want to improve standards… It is a challenge for them to put in place the administrative structures. There is a lot of provincial autonomy. We are looking for a central authority to have control over the referral process.”
Further, the article quotes Andrews as saying,
“I think we’re being properly cautious. No-one is going to thank us if we sign without exercising due caution. We have to absolutely satisfy ourselves that the best standards apply. In 15 or 16 years these children will see the American report and ask what we did to ensure their interests were protected.”