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Minister wants to help children in Haitian orphanages

Irish Times, MICHAEL O'REGAN Fri, Jan 22, 2010

Minister of State for Children Barry Andrews said he had discussions with ministerial colleagues and others about assisting children in Haitian orphanages.

He said he would like Ireland to help by supporting the reconstruction of orphanages and by facilitating the provision of respite accommodation to children and parents, as had happened in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident.

“It may be possible for us to agree fostering arrangements,” Mr Andrews added.

“The difficulty with adoption is that a Haitian parent might come to Ireland in three or four years time to look for his or her child. They might find that a bond has already been developed between the child and the adoptive parent.”

It was clear, said Mr Andrews, that the State would be liable if it had not carried out the correct adoption procedures with due diligence. “This underlines some of the difficulties that exist in this area,” said Mr Andrews.

“Adoption should not necessarily always be the first option for people who have a strong urge to protect and care for children.”

Speaking during the debate on the Adoption Bill, he said that reference had been made to the right to access information that helped one to trace people involved in adoptions.

“The adoption board has been operating a national adoption contact preference register for the last few years,” he added. “The issue of tracing can cause serious, complex and sensitive issues to arise.”

Mr Andrews said that while there was a lot of interest in the register, matching could have limited success.

“Clearly, there needs to be a balance between the right to privacy of a person who gives up a child for adoption and the right of a child to know who his or her parents are,” he added. It was hard to reflect those balancing rights in law, said Mr Andrews.

2010 The Irish Times

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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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