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Adoption chiefs to go to Vietnam over fears

By Conall Ó Fátharta, Irish Examiner Wednesday, April 13, 2011

OFFICIALS from the Adoption Authority are to travel to Vietnam to examine if the "profound concerns" raised in a number of international reports about adoption practices in the country have been addressed.

Speaking after a meeting with Adoption Authority chairman Geoffrey Shannon and chief executive Elizabeth Canavan, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald said she had asked officials from the authority to travel to the south east Asian country ahead of the country ratifying the Hague Convention in June.

However, Ms Fitzgerald said it was important not to "raise expectations unduly" about when an administrative agreement could be arranged with the country

"I am pleased that Vietnam has signed the Hague Convention, but recognise the significant body of work that still needs to be done to protect children and fully ratify the convention. We don’t want to raise expectations unduly, but it is very important to clarify what the situation is in Vietnam and bring as much clarity as we can to it in view of the fact they are ratifying Hague," she said.

Mr Shannon Mr Shannon said he was committed to ensuring that all concerns raised about adoption practices in Vietnam had been addressed fully.

"Nobody has a right to adopt. The Hague Convention provides a framework in which to regulate intercountry adoption not just to facilitate intercountry adoption. It’s hugely important that consent is freely given and that adoption is in the best interests of children," he said.

The minister confirmed her commitment to introducing tracing and information legislation for adopted people and natural parents, but said she was not in a position to offer a timescale.

"I would like to see tracing and information legislation. I believe that we are behind some other countries, and in terms of the exact form that that would take I am open to discussions on. I think there are people that have been very emotionally scarred by a lack of information but, equally, there are issues about respect for birth parents, but it is an area there should be legislation in," she said.

Mr Shannon also said it was important that an information and tracing service for children adopted from abroad be made available for those children when they turn 18 years old.

"We are now looking at legacy issues from the 1950s and 1960s. Will we be looking at these issues in 20 years time. I hope we won’t and that we will ensure that all children adopted from abroad will have a full file available to them to identify their origins," 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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