Couples hoping to adopt face disappointment as 14 parents for every baby
THE odds are stacked against Irish people now wanting to adopt a young and healthy baby abroad.
Most of the 650 prospective parents, who have been passed as suitable, will end up disappointed, an Oireachtas committee was told yesterday.
"There are at least 14 times more prospective Irish parents seeking to adopt babies and children than there are children referred here from abroad," said Kiernan Gildea, acting head of Adoption Authority.
"People seeking to adopt young and healthy babies are most unlikely to have a child placed with them due to the worldwide decrease in the numbers of infants available for adoption," he said.
However, large numbers of older children and children with special needs continue to live in orphanages and State institutions around the world and can often be available for intercountry adoptions, he told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children.
Since 2010 when new legislation came into effect the range of countries from where Irish people can adopt has fallen. One support group said the current regulations are "not fit for purpose".
There were 72 foreign adoptions registered in Ireland last year but the majority of these families had been given a declaration of suitability before 2010 when more countries were open to them.
Mr Gildea said he expects 30 to 40 foreign adoptions to be registered this year and all of the parents have been passed since 2010. The majority of the children come from the United States and are of Latino and African American origin.
He said anyone can be assessed as a prospective adopter but there needed to be an age limit put on this as the average age of applicants is 43 years. An adoption from China can take another seven years, he added
He said: "Children are now often aged more than 18-months-old when available for intercountry adoption
"The international trend is that children are being placed on average from about age four years, having spent 44 months in institutional care."
The International Adoption Association of Ireland, representing families, told the committee there is general recognition worldwide that the age profile of children is older and many have special needs but there is not a national willingness within TUSLA, the child and family agency, to approve recommendations for an older child adoption.
They said that there is a growing frustration and disillusionment with the lack of implementation of the principles of the Hague Convention.
They said there is continued wasted spend by the State on the assessment process with applicants having an expensive declaration document and little hope of ever effecting adoption.
They added that it was unacceptable that the level of adoptions is so low and they called for greater transparency from the Adoption Authority.