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Report criticising Vietnamese adoptions to be published

By Conall O Fátharta

Irish Examiner, Saturday, October 03, 2009        

A MAJOR UNICEF report, believed to be behind the Government’s failure to renew a bilateral agreement with Vietnam on adoption, is to be made public later this month.  

UNICEF’s International Social Service (ISS) draft report is believed to be critical of adoption procedures in the country.

Some of the criticisms include the fact that intercountry adoptions from Vietnam are demand-driven, meaning the availability of children who are adoptable relates more to the number of foreign adopters than to the actual needs of abandoned or orphaned children.

Talks had been taking place with the Vietnamese government about an interim agreement. However, these were put on hold by Minister for Children Barry Andrews pending his consideration of the ISS report.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Prime Time programme, Mr Andrews said he was hopeful the report would be made public later this month.

Mr Andrews said that the report, along with a second report by the Vietnamese Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs (Molisa), had to be fully considered before progress could be made.

"Both of them are the latest knowledge. They are authoritative. They’re from child protection international experts and so we have to consider the contents of those reports in determining how we progress this issue," he said.

Mr Andrews said some of the content in the ISS report was "quite hard-hitting" and confirmed there were currently no direct discussions between the two countries on a new bilateral agreement.

Fine Gael spokesperson on children Alan Shatter called on Mr Andrews to re-open discussions with Vietnam in an effort to renew the bilateral agreement.

"There is not an awful lot in the reports that I have seen, the UNICEF and Molisa reports, that is all that new and I do believe that any issues that the minister has concerns about could have been addressed in a new bilateral agreement.

"What we actually do need is the discussions with the Vietnamese authorities, which have come to a halt and which he has chosen to stop, to be re-opened and re-started," he said.

Shane Clarke of Vietnamese Irish Network of Adoptive Parents criticised the lack of information made available to those currently waiting to adopt from Vietnam.

"We meet on a regular basis with you [Minister Andrews] and whether its because of confidentiality or whatever else, support groups are told ‘No, we have nothing to report, there is nothing happening’," 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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