Press Release

Lenihan launches plan for new Adoption Authority

Brian Lenihan, T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Children, today (Thursday 12th February) launched the corporate plan for a new Adoption Authority, which is to replace the existing Adoption Board. The plan sets out the practical steps to be taken to establish the new organisation, pending legislation to put the Authority on a statutory basis, which is currently being prepared and which Minister Lenihan hopes to submit to Government shortly.

Pending the legislation, the senior management team has been appointed by the Minister to put in place the organisational arrangements for the new Authority. The corporate plan, being published today, sets out the new structure for the Authority, including the new services to be provided, and the corporate objectives and key tasks to be undertaken in the period 2004-07 to bring the Authority into full operation.

The senior management team has begun its work by first consulting with statutory bodies, adoption agencies and support groups involved in adoption to get their input into the plan. The corporate plan also incorporates the findings of an Organisation and Management Review of the Adoption Board carried out by Maureen Lynott.

The establishment of the new Authority is a response to changes in adoption since its introduction in 1952, when the Adoption Board was established, changes which have accelerated in recent years. These key changes include:

  • A decline in the secrecy surrounding adoption and a demand for openness, reflected in a major increase in enquiries from adopted people about their adoption which have increased from 711 in 1997 to 2,617 in 2002.
  • A significant decline in domestic adoptions which have fallen from a high of 1,443 in 1975 to 266 in 2002 (167 of these were step-parent adoptions).
  • A significant growth in intercountry adoptions which have increased from 30 in 1992 to 357 in 2002.

A business plan is published with the corporate plan setting out the specific measures to be taken in 2004 to progress implementation.

The legislation currently being prepared includes the following key Elements:

  • Broader statutory functions, including:
  • Responsibility to oversee the provision of a national, integrated, quality adoption service, and the establishment of a national Information and Tracing service.
  • New powers to regulate intercountry adoption under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption.
  • Setting standards for the delivery of adoption services
  • Carrying out inspection of these services
  • Undertaking research to support the development of quality services.
  • Appointment of a new board with wider representation to reflect the broader remit of the Authority.
  • Appointment of a senior management team headed by a CEO and the development of new structures and services.