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Adoptions fall by 90pc in four years

THE number of babies adopted from abroad is only a tenth of what it was four years ago, new figures show.

Data released by Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald reveal that 39 foreign adoptions by Irish residents took place last year, a massive reduction on the 397 registered in 2008.

The minister has been urged to facilitate the removal of the red tape blocking the way of thousands of couples.

Fianna Fail children's spokesman Charlie McConalogue said the Hague Convention on inter-country adoption has "totally changed" the regime.

"There has been a significant drop in the number of adoptions [since its ratification],"he said.

Under the changed procedures, Irish residents can adopt only from countries that have also signed up to the convention or with which Ireland has a bilateral agreement.

However, no such arrangements have been put in place. Mr McConalogue wants the bilateral agreement process to be expedited.

The Adoption Act came into effect in November 2010, coinciding with Ireland's formal ratification of the convention.

The 2008 data shows that, before this, Vietnam and Russia were the two most popular countries for foreign adoptions.

The figures for 2011 released by Ms Fitzgerald do not contain the numbers adopted from Russia as it is not a Hague ratified country. There were no adoptions from Vietnam.

Of the 39, 17 were from the US, seven were from Mexico and six were from Kazakhstan.

China (four), India (two), the Philippines, South Africa and Thailand also featured on the list.

Even though Vietnam has ratified the convention, administrative agreements have yet to be put in place allowing adoptions to proceed.