Times, Wed, May 20, 2009
RECENT days the anguish of prospective adoptive parents whose hoped-for
adoptions have been stalled by the ending of a bilateral agreement
between Ireland and Vietnam has been graphically described in these
pages. The devotion of these parents to their hoped-for children and the
difficulties they are experiencing are beyond doubt.
existing adoption agreement with Vietnam, in existence for just under
five years, lapsed at the beginning of this month leaving families in
the middle of the process in a state of suspension. But this should not
lead to a hasty or ill-considered renewal of the agreement which is
currently under renegotiation.
renegotiation was necessitated by concerns on the part of the Government
about adoption procedures in Vietnam following the publication last year
of a highly critical report by the US government. The latter suspended
adoptions from Vietnam, a course followed some months later by Sweden.
concerns relate to the ability of Vietnamese central state authorities
to ensure that procedures followed by local authorities and orphanages
meet best practice and guarantee the rights and interests of adoptive
children and their families of origin. Best practice requires that the
families of origin are fully informed and counselled in relation to
their consent to adoption and that no money changes hands. The US report
indicated that this is not always the case.
there are many differences between the situation involving American
adoptions in Vietnam, where there are several competing agencies, and
the Irish one, where there is only one which is authorised by the
Adoption Board, the Minister for Children is correct to proceed with
adoptions raise many complex issues and reveal sharply the inequalities
that exist between “sending” and “receiving” countries. Not only
are income levels vastly different, it is inevitable that the
administrative infrastructure in most of the “sending” countries
will rarely match that in the “receiving” and that there will be
room for bad practice to develop as a result. In such circumstances,
responsibility lies on the “receiving” country to ensure that
everything is done to protect the children involved.
alternative is a scenario where in the years to come as adoptive
children reach adulthood, they will have legitimate questions for the
Irish authorities as to what steps were taken to guarantee their
interests. The Government must ensure it has the answers.
2009 The Irish Times
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