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Irish couples caught up in Mexico adoption scam

By Caroline O’Doherty and Conall Ó Fátharta

Monday, January 16, 2012

THE Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed it is in contact with a number of Irish couples caught up in an alleged adoption scam in Mexico.

Eleven couples are believed to be among those being questioned by police in Guadalajara after reports that local women had sold babies for placement through private adoption agencies.

Private adoptions of babies to other countries were legal up to last year, but Mexico introduced tight restrictions on the practice in recent months.

The Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) issued five warnings while it tried to clarify the new arrangements.

In a warning issued last June, the AAI said couples interested in adopting from Mexico should be aware that "difficulties" had arisen in some cases and urged they should "take particular care".

A follow-up in September stated: "Prospective adoptive parents who propose to adopt from Mexico should not enter into any arrangements with adoption agencies, individual agents or individual birth families until further clarification has been provided."

It also warned that couples would not have their application for registration of adoptions from Mexico considered until the situation was clarified.

In December, an AAI delegation travelled to meet their Mexican counterparts and subsequently issued a notice that only one system of inter-country adoption was now recognised there and it was "public and statutorily regulated". While a few states were allowing for private adoptions, these were "domestic adoptions only".

On January 5, the AAI published the legal declaration Mexico had made on the subject of inter-country adoptions which again stressed all such adoptions had to be handled centrally through the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that "only such children as have previously been adopted through Mexican family courts may be transferred outside Mexico".

Last week, another AAI notice added a further restriction: that no children under 5 should be proposed for inter-country adoption except in the case of children with special needs or sibling groups.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, AAI chairman Geoffrey Shannon said the group has already "raised a number of red flags in relation to practices there. We have flagged a number of issues primarily that prospective adoptive parents not enter private arrangements with individuals to adopt."

He said the situation will be discussed at the next meeting of the state body.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said little about the case yesterday, but it is understood it is trying to verify what channels the Irish couples went through and how they got caught up in an apparently rogue operation, given the number of warnings.

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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." 

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