Press Release

Hanafin asks Health Boards to assist ERHA in reducing Inter-country Adoption Assessment waiting times

Mary Hanafin T.D., Minister for Children has again appealed to all Health Boards to assist in the assessment of couples in the Dublin region for inter-country adoption.

Speaking at a conference on inter-country adoption, Sharing Best Practise today (Tuesday, 9 April, 2002) in Kilkenny, Minister Hanafin said “I am very concerned about the delays being experienced by applicants for inter-country adoption assessment in the Eastern Regional Health Authority (ERHA) as evident in the latest statistics which I have received from the ERHA.”

The number of applicants awaiting assessment at the end of 2001 is 477 for first assessment and 61 for second assessment. This is despite the substantial increased funding provided by the Government to the Authority to improve the system. Delays have arisen over the last few years because of (i) an increased interest in inter-country adoption, and (ii) difficulties being experienced in the ERHA region in recruiting social workers.

“In the last four years a number of improvements have been put in place to facilitate couples who wish to adopt from abroad: –

A Standardised Framework for Inter-country Adoption Assessment was introduced to streamline assessments and to provide a transparent system centered on the child´s best interests and respectful to all the parties involved.

  • €2.1m additional funding has been provided to reduce the time spent by couples on the waiting lists.
  • Working agreements have been made with China, Thailand, Belarus and the Philippines.
  • Legislation is being prepared to ratify the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation “in respect of Inter-country Adoption” 1993.
  • The recommendations of the organisation and management review of the Adoption Board are currently being implemented.

Despite the fact that funding has been provided in the ERHA area for over 20 social workers to carry out assessments, by the end of last year there were only 9.5 social workers in the service. This is leading to intolerable delays for couples who have already experienced a lot of personal trauma”, Minister Hanafin said.

Extra administrative personnel and office facilities have also been provided to free up social workers to concentrate on assessments and to reduce travelling time.

“I have previously asked other health boards to assist the Eastern Regional Health Authority in reducing their waiting lists and I am again today asking them for their help. It is unacceptable that couples in Dublin should wait 3 times longer than the rest of the country and many have advised me they would be willing to travel anywhere for assessment”, the Minister said.

“I have put the ERHA in touch with the British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) with a view to seeing if they are in a position to co-operate in assisting the ERHA in carrying out inter-country adoption assessments” Minister Hanafin continued.

Minister Hanafin said that she had visited orphanages in Russia and the Philippines. “These children deserve the love and protection of a family – we should do all we can at every level to facilitate that”.