Adoption body takes
CAROL COULTER, Legal
Irish Times, Tue, Nov 02,
THE ADOPTION Authority,
which came into existence yesterday, will ensure that the best interests of
the child prevail in all adoptions, according to its chairman, Geoffrey
Shannon. At the core of that must be consent, he said.
The authority was
established by the Adoption Act 2010, which came into force yesterday. It
provides a framework for both domestic and inter-country adoptions,
including the ratification of the Hague Convention on Inter-country
Adoptions by Ireland.
Mr Shannon stressed the
importance of consent in inter-country adoptions. “That cannot be produced
by payment,” he said.
The authority would end the
practice whereby prospective adoptive parents made a financial contribution
to the child’s country in “humanitarian aid”.
“It is hugely important
we draw a line between humanitarian aid and adoption,” he said. “That is
not to say there should not be humanitarian aid, but there must be a clear
dividing line between humanitarian aid and individual adoptions.”
The new authority will also
have the task of accrediting mediation agencies, which will work with
countries from which children are adopted and prospective adoptive parents,
and of agencies that will assess people for their suitability as adoptive
That work is carried out by
the Health Service Executive at the moment and there has been criticism of
the delays in completing the process, which can take a number of years.
Under the new Act, the HSE will have the task of supervising independent
assessment agencies, to be accredited by the Adoption Authority.
“We will have a robust
framework for accrediting bodies,” Mr Shannon added.
He said that there would be
a single standard for assessments all over the State and a working group had
already been established to ensure uniformity.
While the Adoption Act does
permit the conclusion of bilateral adoption agreements with countries that
have not signed up to the Hague Convention, Mr Shannon warned prospective
adoptive parents against putting pressure for the conclusion of such
agreements. “Putting pressure on countries to enter into agreements
contrary to the spirit of Hague could lead to child-trafficking,” he said.
Minister for Children Barry
Andrews said the Adoption Act catered for domestic as well as inter-country
adoptions, “more so if constitutional change occurs soon”. The Act
permits adoption by couples and, in exceptional circumstances, by single
He also said that the
officials who worked on the Adoption Act had now begun work on a new Bill
providing for tracing and birth information for adopted people.
Mr Andrews also launched a
new website of the Adoption Authority, which will bring together information
on adoption from all sources.
The members of the new
authority are Helen Collins, solicitor, who is its deputy chair; Siobhán
Keogh, social worker and member of the previous board; Ann McWilliams,
social worker; Corina Carrick, solicitor; Dr Helen Greally, a psychologist,
and Dr Cyril McNulty, a medical practitioner.
Arc Adoption, which was set
up seeking to be an accredited mediation agency under the new Act, welcomed
the legislation. Its chief executive, Shane Downer, said it aimed to
establish programmes with at least four countries.
© 2010 The Irish Times
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