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Numbers of adopted children in care unknown

By Conall Ó Fátharta

Monday, January 02, 2012

THE number of adopted children in care is not known by the HSE, the Department of Health or the Department of Children, despite it being raised as a concern by social workers as far back as 2005.

The only major report commissioned into intercountry adoption outcomes in Ireland, in 2005, explicitly criticised the lack of post- adoption services and the fact that a number of internationally adopted children had ended up in care.

"All social workers were aware of and concerned about the lack of post-adoption services. Although it did not arise in this study, all knew of cases where adoptions had broken down and internationally adopted children had been taken into care," said the study.

According to figures published in the Adoption Authority annual reports, between 1991 and 2008, a total of 3,966 children were adopted from abroad. The authority has not published an annual report since 2008.

The Irish Association of Social Workers also confirmed it is anecdotally aware of cases where internationally adopted children ended up in the care system.

A Freedom of Information request to the HSE was returned within one day, stating that the HSE’s National Specialist for Children and Families did not hold such information.

"The HSE does not hold data in regard to children originally adopted. We also sought advice from the Department of Health and they have also advised that they do not hold this information," said the response.

The HSE advised that the Adoption Authority may hold the information, despite the HSE having statutory responsibility for the placing of children in care. The Adoption Authority said it did not hold the information.

In October, Adoption Authority chairman Geoffrey Shannon said there was a need for more research on outcomes for children who are adopted internationally.
"If a child spends a lot of time in institutions, he or she could have behavioural problems. We have never looked in detail at them. Parents need to be informed of the difficulties they might encounter and receive post -adoption support," he said.

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“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning . . . and the most disquieting loneliness." 

Alex Haley, Author of Roots 





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