Agreement with US will 'open door' in adoption process
PARENTS hoping to adopt children received a welcome boost after the Irish and American governments agreed new arrangements for adoptions between the two countries.
The new arrangement opens up the prospect of Irish-based families adopting children from the US.
Adoptions into Ireland have dropped dramatically in the last four years, from 307 in 2009 to 117 in 2012. Only 19 children were adopted from the US last year.
However, the signing of new agreements between countries, including America and Vietnam, is expected to lead to a rise in figures once more.
The US arrangements were finalised last Tuesday by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald.
The formalities were concluded at a meeting in the US Department of State in Washington DC attended by Ms Fitzgerald; Dr Geoffrey Shannon, chairman of the Adoption Authority of Ireland; and the new Irish Ambassador to the US, Anne Anderson.
Speaking from Washington last night, Ms Fitzgerald said that the new agreement would help reverse the "crisis" in inter-country adoptions since 2010.
"It is the opening of another door," said the minister, who has spoken with officials in states including Miami and New York about the prospect of Irish families adopting.
Ms Fitzgerald said that she hoped that once the courts clarify the position of the children's referendum that Irish families would open their hearts and homes to some 5,000 children in long-term foster care who "deserve a second chance".
Ireland and the US are both signatories to the 1993 Hague Convention on the protection of children and co-operation in respect of intercountry adoption. Ms Fitzgerald said that the new arrangements were concluded under the umbrella of the Hague Convention.
"Since I took office, I have worked closely with the Adoption Authority to ensure that inter-country adoptions can once again take place effectively between Ireland and other countries," Ms Fitzgerald said.