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Adoption watchdog to enforce new rules

By Conall O Fátharta

Irish Examiner, Monday, November 22, 2010

A HIQA-STYLE inspection unit to ensure bodies approved to provide adoption services meet strict new regulations is being considered by the Adoption Authority.

The unit is expected to carry out regular inspections of accredited adoption service providers and is part of a more stringent regime in Irish adoption.

It is hoped the regulations will mark a fresh start for adoption regulation in Ireland and protect against a recurrence of abuses carried out in the past.

The Irish Examiner exposed numerous cases where birth registrations were falsified in order that adoptive parents appeared as the natural parents of the child and where adoptions were carried out in the absence of any birth certificate.

In some cases, this was facilitated by adoption agencies which remained accredited by the former Adoption Board despite its knowledge of such activity.

However, under the new Adoption Act, which came into force at the beginning of November, anyone who wishes to provide adoption services or act as a mediation agency for inter-country adoption must be accredited by the Adoption Authority under the Adoption Act (Accredited Bodies) Regulations 2010.

Voluntary adoption agencies dealing with domestic adoptions and previously accredited by the Adoption Board must re-apply under the new regime.

Advertisements seeking expressions of interest from bodies wishing to provide adoption services were placed in the national media last week while similar adverts relating to those wishing to become accredited mediation agencies for inter-country adoption were circulated last month.

Minister for Children Barry Andrews hit out at recent "incorrect" media reports stating voluntary adoption agencies are in a legal limbo as a result of the legislation.

"Accredited bodies – organisations delivering adoption services – must comply with the terms of the 2010 Act. This legislation ends the practice whereby a single adoption agency could provide the full range of adoption services, from pre-birth counselling to post birth placement with prospective parents. This was a very clear policy decision taken to avoid the obvious conflicts that could arise. This was communicated to the agencies involved on several occasions over the course of the past 12 months. Each agency needs to decide what services it wishes to deliver and apply for accreditation," he said.

Mr Andrews said the HSE can take over cases if an agency decides not to deliver a particular service and that nobody would be left without a service. 

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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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