Press Release

Hanafin Says UK Adoption Case Would Be Breaking Irish Laws

The Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Children, Mary Hanafin TD today (Thursday, 17 January 2001) referred to the case of the British couple who adopted twin girls from the United States using an American agency advertising on the Internet.

The Minister outlined that the protections in Irish Adoption laws ensure that such a case could not occur here. Referring to the provisions of the Adoption Act, 1991 and 1998 regarding intercountry adoption the Minister said “This case demonstrates the inherent dangers in adoption systems which allow private placements and private assessments, which are both outlawed in the Irish system.” The Minister went on to clarify that couples resident in Ireland, who wish to adopt abroad, must be assessed by a health board or a registered adoption society. It is only following such an assessment that applicants may be granted a declaration of eligibility and suitability by the Adoption Board.“The prior assessment of prospective adopters, the known rigour of the assessment process and the standing of the Irish Adoption Board is what persuades foreign authorities to allow Irish couples to adopt in their country. In addition, the linking of immigration clearance for the child to the granting of a declaration (of eligibility and suitability ) is an added protection for children being brought to this country from abroad.”

The Minister also pointed out that the interests of children are not served if there is any ambiguity about the status of their adoption or their right to reside in the country of their adoptive parents. “Apart from the fact that they may have broken the law, parents who see this as an easy option are potentially storing up problems for their child for the future”.

The Minister also drew particular attention to the Hague Convention on Protection and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, 1993 to which Ireland, Britain and the United States are signatories. “This kind of incident emphasises the need for co-operation between States to ensure that the interests of children are not lost in the adoption process. Improper financial gain is expressly forbidden in the Convention. Even more importantly, the Convention recognises intercountry adoption as a measure which should be considered only when a suitable family cannot be found in the child’s State of origin. Clearly, there is considerable doubt as to whether either of these provisions have been complied with in this case.”

The Minister continued saying that the preparation of legislation to ratify the Hague Convention is at an advanced stage in the Department and reiterated the importance of maximimising the protections for children in the intercountry adoption process.