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Written Answers - Inter-Country Adoptions

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 765 No. 3

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 428.  Deputy Billy Timmins Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins  asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  the position regarding inter governmental bilateral adoption agreement which is required between Russia and Ireland before couples in the process of adopting in Russia can go ahead with the process (details supplied); if the process for the introduction of this agreement can be speeded up; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23736/12]

 429.  Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy  asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  if her attention has been drawn to the fact that under the Adoption Act 2010 no Russian adoptions can take place until a bilateral agreement is signed with the Russian authorities, and when this bilateral agreement can be expected to take place. [23697/12]

 430.  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 progress made to date towards the establishment of a bilateral agreement on inter-country adoption with Russia in view of the provisions of the Hague Convention; the anticipated timeframe for completion of these negotiations; the efforts being taken to ensure these negotiations are conducted as quickly as possible in view of the long lead times for adoptions and the many families who have now been approved by the Health Service Executive and are waiting to adopt from Russia; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23818/12]

 431.  Deputy Anne Ferris Information on Anne Ferris Zoom on Anne Ferris  asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  if she will prioritise efforts to enact a bilateral agreement for inter-country adoption between Ireland and Russia; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23888/12]

[470]Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I propose to take Questions Nos. 428 to 431, inclusive, together.

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 inter-country adoption process. It sets out minimum standards regarding intercountry adoption and covers issues such as subsidiarity, consent and financial considerations. 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 inter-country 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.

A limited number of adoptions from Russia are currently being processed under transitional arrangements as provided for in the Adoption Act, 2010. Under the provisions of the legislation, such adoptions may take place up to the end of October 2012, with the possibility of the Adoption Authority granting approval for an extension of up to one year. Russia has not ratified the Hague Convention and there appears to be no immediate prospect that this will happen. In the circumstances, adoptions from Russia, beyond those provided for under the transitional arrangements, may only be possible under a bilateral 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 have received an initial assessment from the Adoption Authority which will inform the next steps to be taken in relation to this matter. My Department is in discussions with the Adoption Authority on this assessment and other issues which will influence any policy decisions to be taken in this regard. I am aware of the need to bring clarity to the situation in respect of Russia and I hope to be in a position to do so shortly.

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.


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