Automatic right to assessment for adoption a ‘waste of resources’

Committee told 14 times the number of people seeking to adopt ‘intercountry’ than children being adopted

The Adoption Authority of Ireland said there are 14 times the number of Irish people seeking to adopt intercountry than children being adopted, with some 650 live declarations of suitability to adopt having been granted to those who have completed their assessment. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The Adoption Authority of Ireland said there are 14 times the number of Irish people seeking to adopt intercountry than children being adopted, with some 650 live declarations of suitability to adopt having been granted to those who have completed their assessment. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 09:48

The automatic right to assessment to determine suitability to adopt children in Ireland is a huge drain on resources at the Child and Family Agency, the dedicated State body responsible for improving wellbeing and outcomes for children, an Oireachtas committee has been told.

Celia Loftus of the Adoption Authority of Ireland told the joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children yesterday that this drain was in effect “a waste of resources”.

The authority, she said, has “asked time and time again that the law is changed so that not everyone has a right to be assessed for adoption”.

The authority pointed out there are 14 times the number of Irish people seeking to adopt intercountry than children being adopted, with some 650 live declarations of suitability to adopt having been granted to those who have completed their assessment.

The committee was meeting to consider adoption in Ireland with key stakeholders. Representatives of four organisations came. They included Kiernan Gildea and Ms Loftus of the Adoption Authority of Ireland; Susan Lohan and Edel Byrne of the Adoption Rights Alliance; Ruth Lennon and Trish Connolly of the International Adoption Association; and Maria Corbett of the Children’s Rights Alliance.

There was confusion and dispute among committee members about the number of post-Hague adoptions since 2010, when the new 2010 Adoption Act became law. Since then, anyone holding a declaration issued after November 2010 can only adopt from a Hague-compliant country. This has meant the two main countries Irish people had been adopting from – Russia and Ethiopia – are no longer open.

Mr Gildea confirmed to the committee the number of adoptions since 2010 to those people holding post-Hague declarations was in fact 11, as first reported in this newspaper in March.

Funding

In response to a question from Senator John Crown regarding the Adoption Authority’s funding, Mr Gildea said they have a budget of €2.6 million, and employ a staff of 21.

Mr Gildea also revealed the €10,000 monthly State funding to the two Irish-accredited adoption agencies will cease at the end of this month. “There are no guarantees beyond that,” he said. Neither of the agencies is in receipt of long-term State funding.

Ms Lohan expressed concern that intercountry adoption in Ireland “has become a service for adults instead of a service for children”. Her statement said: “If there are fewer children internationally ‘requiring adoption’, the world should be celebrating because it means these children have a chance to be raised by their natural families or, at the very least, by members of their wider community.”

Ms Corbett of the Children’s Rights Alliance called for a single national joined-up service for childcare and adoption services, and for a statutory adoption information and tracing service.

Bilateral agreements with other non-Hague compliant countries were discussed; currently there are none. “We will be cautious in any country we recommend for a bilateral,” Mr Gildea said. Ms Lohan said bilateral agreements could lead to “corrupt adoptions”.

Ms Connolly said the International Adoption Association would welcome bilateral agreements and it did not believe the 2010 Adoption Act is fit for purpose. The Adoption Authority has made a submission to the Minister for Children on 23amendments to the 2010 Act.