Number of overseas adoptions down to 11, new figures reveal

Hague Adoption Convention ratified in 2010 changed rules affecting adoption

Adoptions from Russia and Ethiopia are now closed to people since Hague Convention. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Adoptions from Russia and Ethiopia are now closed to people since Hague Convention. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Sat, Mar 8, 2014, 01:00

Figures obtained from the Adoption Authority of Ireland reveal that just 11 children have been adopted from abroad under the terms of the Hague Adoption Convention, which Ireland ratified in November 2010.

The convention changed the law around adoptions into Ireland. Before a person in the State can apply to adopt a child, they must first complete a mandatory HSE assessment.

If successful, they are issued with a legal document by the Adoption Authority of Ireland. This document is known as a declaration and it permits the holder to adopt. Declarations issued after November 2010 can be used to adopt only from a country that is Hague- compliant.

Russia and Ethiopia
Prior to ratification, most adoptions into the State were from Russia and Ethiopia. Because neither country is Hague-compliant, they are now closed to people with post-Hague declarations.

Adoptions continued to be carried out in those countries and others by people who held pre-Hague declarations however. There were 188 pre-Hague adoptions in 2011, 117 in 2012 and 141 last year.

There have been only 11 adoptions made in the same period to holders of post-Hague declarations. There were two in 2011, six in 2012, three last year and none to date this year. This is about 2 per cent of the number of adoptions made to holders of pre-Hague declarations during the same time-frame.

Six of the 11 adoptions were from the United States, two from Britain and one from Bulgaria. Britain does not have an inter-country programme with Ireland. In explaining these two adoptions, the authority stated, “These are either inter-country adoptions, where there is usually a pre-existing familiar relationships between the adoptive parents and the child, or the recognition of adoptions which have been carried out in the United Kingdom, sometimes stretching back many years.”

Dropped out
All adoptions in the State must go through the Adoption Authority of Ireland, which replaced the former adoption board in November 2010. It is an agency of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and its chairman is Geoffrey Shannon. Since November 2010, the authority has had two chief executives, Elizabeth Canavan and Pat Bennett. The position has been vacant for several months and Kiernan Gildea is the acting chief executive.

There are 537 active declarations in the State. A declaration lasts for two years and can be extended by one year. After that, there has to be another assessment process. A declaration is issued to either a single applicant or a couple, which makes the number of people affected by the 2010 change in law close to 1,000.

Many others have dropped out of the system altogether in the past three years and given up, due to the fact so few adoptions have been effected since Hague was ratified.

‘Suitability to adopt’
In a statement commenting on the figures of those currently holding declarations, the authority said: “Every applicant has a right to an assessment of their suitability to adopt under the Adoption Act 2010 and the authority has no discretion in this regard. This is irrespective of the number of children available for adoption.”

Asked to comment on the low numbers of adoptions to people with post-Hague declarations, the adoption authority stated:“The success of the authority’s work is not measured by the number of adoptions which it processes, but rather by the quality and propriety of those adoptions.”