Adoptions down as conditions improve abroad

(Stock photo)

Eilis O'Regan

The significant decline in recent years in the number of children available for adoption abroad is a welcome development, according to Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

The average wealth has grown and standards of child protection safeguards have improved in these countries which would previously have placed large numbers of children for adoption.

"This is a welcome development for children who are now being cared for in their own countries, often by extended family members," she said.

The minister was replying to a series of parliamentary questions on foreign adoption in light of figures showing a drop in the numbers of children adopted from abroad by Irish people.

The total number of inter-country adoptions recognised by the Authority in the years 2010 to 2013 (inclusive) was 725.

In 2013, the number of adoptions registered was 141, in 2012 it was 242 and in 2011 it was 342. Of these 85 were adopted from countries which ratified the Hague Convention.

She added: "I am advised by the Adoption Authority that it remains absolutely committed to facilitating and recognising inter-country adoptions to the extent that children become available for adoption outside their own country and where all relevant legal requirements are fulfilled.

"To this end, the authority is engaging with the central authorities in a number of countries including India, China, the US, Bulgaria, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines."

She said efforts were ongoing in her department in relation to a bilateral agreement on inter-country adoption between Ireland and the Russian Federation.

"Following my invitation to the Russian Ministry of Education and Science in August 2013, a delegation of Russian officials travelled to Ireland in October 2013 for discussions on a bilateral agreement on inter-country adoption between Ireland and the Russian Federation.

"The meeting of October 22, 2013 was very positive and detailed discussions took place between the Russian officials and officials from my department, the Adoption Authority of Ireland, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the HSE.

"At the meeting, significant progress was made and my department, in early November 2013, forwarded to the Russian side further detailed proposals based on the discussions which took place. Following this my department prepared revised draft wording on a number of specific points which were recently forwarded to the Russian authorities.

"In transmitting these revisions to the Russian authorities it was suggested that should these revisions be acceptable to the Russian Federation, it would be useful for both sides to meet again for further discussions.

"The Adoption Authority delegation visit to Ethiopia in April 2012 was an initial part in its deliberations on the feasibility and suitability of entering into discussions with Ethiopia on a bilateral adoption agreement.

"The authority has also sought and received advice on the legal compatibility of Irish adoption law with that of Ethiopia.

"Its legal advisers have considered this advice and certain clarifications are being sought. The authority is also trying to establish the position of the Ministry of Women's Affairs in Ethiopia with regard to the desire of the Ethiopian authorities to entering into talks in relation to a bilateral agreement with Ireland.

"The authority will advise me of the position when all the information is available. It is not possible to provide a timeframe for when the authority's deliberations will be finished.

"While Ethiopia is striving to improve its child welfare and adoption procedures, it has not yet reached a stage where inter-country adoptions, if recommenced, could be guaranteed to be legally sound."