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Written Answers - Inter-Country Adoptions

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 754 No. 3

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 448.  Deputy Jerry Buttimer Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  the position regarding discussions with Russian authorities regarding a bilateral agreement on inter-country adoption; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6245/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald In relation to Russia, a limited number of adoptions are currently being processed under transitional arrangements as provided for in the Adoption Act 2010. Such adoptions may take place up to the end of October 2013. Russia has not ratified the Hague Convention and there appears to be no immediate prospect that this will happen. Therefore, future adoptions from Russia, beyond those provided for under the transitional arrangements, may only be possible under a bi-lateral agreement developed to the standards of the Hague Convention.

An official delegation from Ireland recently visited Russia and held preliminary discussions regarding the potential for a bilateral agreement. I am awaiting an assessment from the Adoption Authority which will inform the next steps to be taken in relation to this matter. The immediate priority of the Adoption Authority is the development of administrative arrangements with other countries which have ratified the Hague Convention. Any future bilateral arrangements which might be entered into would also be required by law to meet the minimum standards set out in the Convention.

 449.  Deputy Jerry Buttimer Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs post ratification of Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  the Hague Convention, the number of inter-country adoptions that have taken place here; if there has been no such adoptions when it is expected that inter-country adoptions will recommence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6246/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald In accordance with the Adoption Act, 2010, which came into effect on 1 November 2010, intercountry adoptions can be effected with other countries which have ratified the Hague Convention or with which Ireland has a bilateral agreement. Ireland currently has no bilateral agreements in respect of intercountry adoption. With regard to non-Hague countries, a number of adoptions are being processed under the transitional arrangements provided in the Adoption Act, 2010. Such adoptions may take place up to the end of 2013.

In the period between the commencement of the Adoption Act, 2010, and 26th January 2012, the latest date for which information is available, a total of 368 foreign adoptions have been registered by the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI). Of these, 244 were intercountry adopters resident in Ireland with Declarations issued by the AAI and 124 were Irish ex-patriates resident abroad and seeking recognition of adoptions effected abroad.

 450.  Deputy Jerry Buttimer Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  the reasons it was decided to permit only inter-country adoptions from countries which are compliant with the Hague Convention rather than permitting inter-country adoptions when the adoption is compliant with the Hague Convention; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6247/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald In accordance with the Adoption Act, 2010, which came into effect on 1 November 2010, intercountry adoptions can be effected with other countries which have ratified the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption or with which Ireland has [519]a bilateral agreement. Ireland currently has no bilateral agreements in respect of intercountry adoption.

The Hague Convention is a co-operative agreement drawn up to allow countries to mutually support one another in protecting the best interests of children in the intercountry adoption process. It is designed in such a way as to allow for mirrored mechanisms and structures to mutually assure countries of the safety and standard of intercountry adoptions in those countries. The Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) performs the function of a Central Authority under the Adoption Act, 2010, in accordance with the Convention. In choosing to deal primarily with Hague countries, the AAI has the mechanism to work collaboratively with equivalent structures in that country. Each Central Authority has the responsibility to oversee standards in respect of those parts of the process taking place within their respective jurisdictions. This mutual arrangement is designed to give the AAI, the Government and, most importantly, those involved in the adoption process assurance as to the standards being set and the oversight of the system.

It is not realistic that the Government, or the AAI, could regulate activities relating to the adoption process outside of these State-to-State arrangements. Nor would it be possible for the AAI to work on a case by case basis to oversee individual adoptions extra-jurisdictionally as they are being effected. A system whereby the AAI considered whether adoptions are compliant with the required standards after they have been effected would be unfair both to the children and prospective adoptive parents involved. It leaves open the possibility of adoptions being unrecognised which is contrary to the best interests of the child. The role of the Central Authority in the sending country is therefore critical to the process of national assurance.

The Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) has indicated that its immediate priority is the development of administrative arrangements with other countries which have ratified the Hague Convention. In this context, the AAI is currently developing administrative arrangements with a number of countries which are signatories to the Convention.

With regard to non-Hague countries, a number of adoptions are being processed under transitional arrangements provided for in the Adoption Act, 2010. Such adoptions may take place up to the end of 2013. An official delegation from Ireland recently visited Russia and held exploratory meetings with authorities there regarding the potential for a bilateral agreement. I am awaiting an assessment from the AAI which will inform the next steps in relation to this matter. In addition, I have recently given the AAI approval to commence the process of examining the feasibility of a bilateral agreement with Ethiopia. Any future bilateral arrangements which might be entered into would be required by law to meet the minimum standards set out in the Hague Convention.

 451.  Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris  asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  the position regarding the review of the compatibility of legislation in Kazakhstan with Irish legislation regarding inter-country adoptions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6506/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald In accordance with the Adoption Act, 2010, which came into effect on 1 November 2010, intercountry adoptions can be effected with other countries which have ratified the Hague Convention or with which Ireland has a bilateral agreement.

The Republic of Kazakhstan has ratified the Hague Convention on International Adoption and is in the process of reforming its legislation to bring it in line with the requirements of the Hague Convention. Accordingly, adoptions from Kazakhstan have been temporarily suspended by the authorities in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

In October, 2011 the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) commenced a review of the adoption laws of Kazakhstan. The review of laws is to clarify the precise effects of adoptions [520]effected in Kazakhstan vis-à-vis the Irish legislative regime for recognition so that the effects of recognition are consistent with the effects of the original adoption order. This is a standard check carried out in respect of all countries of origin. Once this review process has been completed, the AAI will advise prospective applicants regarding the issue and may enter into administrative arrangements with that country.


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