Minister considering easing restrictions on adoption for Irish couples

Frances Fitzgerald may make it easier to adopt from countries not party to international agreement

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald speaking at the launch of the latest Growin Up in Ireland report at the ESRI headquarters in Dublin in July. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald speaking at the launch of the latest Growin Up in Ireland report at the ESRI headquarters in Dublin in July. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Tue, Sep 3, 2013, 21:53

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald is considering legislative changes to ease restrictions on Irish couples adopting children from countries that are not party to an international agreement on adoption.

Speaking in Washington at the conclusion of adoption arrangements with the US, Ms Fitzgerald said that legislation passed in 2010 set high standards for adoptions but restricted adoptions with countries who have signed up to the Hague Convention on protecting children on inter-country adoptions.

The Minister noted that the US had continued to work with countries that had not signed up to the Hague agreement and she said that the Irish legislation was “very restrictive” as it allowed adoption arrangements with those countries but only where bilateral arrangements were put in place.

In October the Irish authorities are meeting their counterparts in Russia, which is not a party to the Hague Convention, on a possible agreement on adoption arrangements, she said.

“We are restricted from that unless there is a bilateral agreement and that actually makes it extremely difficult so I am going to consider in association with the adoption authority whether there are some changes we should be looking at in terms of the act,” said Ms Fitzgerald.

The Minister said the arrangements finalised with the US “opens the door” to allow Irish couples adopt American children and creates a “clear road-map” to deal with US adoption agencies.

Ms Fitzgerald said that there were just 19 children adopted into Ireland from the US last year among 350 adoptions out of the country. “There are opportunities and some children available,” she said.

Adoptions into Ireland have fallen from 307 in 2009 to 117 in 2012, in line with declines elsewhere, including the US where inter-country adoptions have fallen from 24,000 in 2004 to 8,000 this year, said the Minister.

About one in every 10 Irish couples seeking to adopt a child are successful, said Dr Geoffrey Shannon, the chairman of the Adoption Authority of Ireland who accompanied the Minister on her trip to the US.