child welfare fears
Irish Times Sat, Apr
Families caught up in
the diplomatic dispute over adoption do not know whom to blame, writes JAMIE
RUSSIA’S DECISION to
place Ireland on a new inter-country adoption blacklist reflects growing
concerns about the welfare of the tens of thousands of its citizens who
have been adopted by foreigners.
murders of adopted Russian children in the US at the hands of their
parents have prompted Moscow to tighten up adoption procedures in recent
The shocking incident
yesterday where an US nurse placed a seven-year-old Siberian boy she had
adopted on a one-way flight to Moscow because she could “no longer
cope with him” will probably heighten these sensitivities.
Several hundred Irish
couples currently in the middle of the inter-country adoption process
with Russia face an anxious wait to see if the current block on adoption
referrals will be lifted.
At least one couple who
travelled to Moscow this week were unable to finalise their adoption
while other couples are being refused visas to travel because of the
The Russian authorities
pinpoint the failure of Irish families, who have already adopted Russian
children, as the reason they are blocking adoption referrals. The
embassy says up to 70 Irish families have not supplied “post-placement
reports” to the authorities.
These reports, which
must be overseen by the Health Service Executive (HSE), are intended to
provide information on how the children integrate into the family and
their general welfare.
Four reports must be
compiled within the first three years of an adoption and sent to the
Russian Ministry of Education and Science. The Russian authorities say
they raised concerns with the Government over the failure to provide the
reports last year. At the time the Government worked to reduce the
Now though it appears
there are renewed concerns that the reports are not being submitted on
time by families, which has led to the new blacklisting.
One of the biggest
frustrations for the families caught up in the diplomatic dispute
(couples who have not yet adopted but are going through the lengthy
legal process) is they do not know whom to blame.
The HSE, which would
not comment on the issue yesterday, must oversee the process of drawing
up the reports. Social workers have to liaise with adoptive families in
this process and delays are likely to occur.
It is also possible
that some families, who have successfully adopted a child from Russia,
find the process of preparing post- placement reports – which must be
translated into Russian – onerous.
Wherever the blame lies
though, the reality is bleak for the hundreds of families attempting to
adopt a child from Russia. Many of these couples, who could be years
into the process of adopting, face uncertainty on whether they will be
allowed to proceed by the Russian authorities.
“Adoption is a long
journey. The average time it takes people is five years and this
uncertainty is deeply distressing for couples going through the
process,” says Derek Farrell, chairman of the Irish Families for
Russian Adoptions, an agency helping people to adopt children from
Russia. The Department of Health and Children say they are dealing with
the problem as a “priority”.
TIME: WAIT FOR CHILD
STEPHEN BRENNAN and
Janet Whiteacre met Kirill, the beautiful 18-month-old Russian child
they plan to adopt this year, for the first time in February.
“He is a loveable and
affectionate child. We spent two wonderful days with him at his
orphanage in the town of Kudymkar,” says Janet, who remembers the
heartbreak when she had to leave him and return to Ireland.
“When it came to the
time to say goodbye it was very, very difficult. We knew we wouldn’t
see him for a couple of months until the adoption was finalised, and to
us he is our little boy,” she says.
Janet and Stephen have
invested six years of their lives in arranging an inter-country adoption
in Russia. They are now terrified that the international dispute between
Russia and the Republic of Ireland could, at this late stage, sabotage
their dream of adopting Kirill.
“Kirill turns two on
the 21st of July and our adoption declaration is only valid to adopt a
child up to 24 months,” says Stephen, who works as a solicitor in
Dublin and is threatening to take legal action against the Health
Service Executive (HSE) on the matter.
“It is the HSE’s
legal obligation to follow through on these post-placement reports and
make sure they are filed on time,” he says.
Stephen and Janet began
their adoption journey in April 2004 when they applied to the HSE to be
considered eligible for a foreign adoption. Progress was slow. They had
to file a huge amount of personal information to support their
application, and finally were called to attend a six-week course in
September 2007. They faced a further delay while they waited for a
social worker to assess them.
In November 2008 they
finally got a declaration from the adoption board, which allows them to
adopt a Russian child.
“It is a race against
time for us with Kirill. We have invested emotionally big style, and now
find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place with the HSE
playing games,” says Janet, who is praying that the blocks can be
© 2010 The Irish Times
here to return to the news page