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Fitzgerald challenged on adoptions

MARIE O'HALLORAN

Irish Times, Fri, Jan 27, 2012

A CLAIM by the Minister for Children that there is no evidence that previous adoptions in Mexico by Irish couples are unsafe has been challenged in the Dáil.

Frances Fitzgerald referred to the controversy in Mexico where 11 Irish couples had been questioned following the discovery of an international child-smuggling ring, after the arrest of three local women accused of buying children from their mothers.

During a Dáil debate on inter-country adoption, Ms Fitzgerald assured parents who had previously adopted from Mexico that the Adoption Authority of Ireland “has no evidence that previous adoptions are unsafe or are affected by the recent events in Mexico”.

Socialist Party TD Clare Daly questioned the statement and said that of 92 children adopted by Irish couples, 60 were arranged by a lawyer called Lopez, who was being sought by police in Mexico.

“How can the Irish Adoption Board say adoptions from Mexico are safe if the Mexican authorities are seeking an individual who has arranged two-thirds of those adoptions?” the Dublin North TD asked. The lawyer was being sought for “illegal practices in adoption involving 60 children adopted by Irish parents, yet the adoption board is on record as stating that all existing adoptions of Mexican children by Irish couples are safe. Both those scenarios cannot be correct.”

During the debate Ms Daly also criticised the media focus on the difficulties faced by up to 20 couples who desperately wanted to adopt from Vietnam, saying they had ignored the plight of 55,000 adopted adults in Ireland, “many of whom were illegally adopted in the State”. There was a “double standard” around adoption because in the past, “Ireland was a huge exporter of children, much to our shame”.

There was now a similar situation in other countries where “in many instances people in poor and difficult socioeconomic circumstances have been preyed upon”.

Sinn Féin spokesman on children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin also highlighted the “shady motivation” of some adoption organisations overseas and warned of “baby businesses masquerading as adoptions organisations”.

“For many years poor children in Ireland were taken from their parents because others felt they ‘knew best’ and that there was a better class of parent elsewhere.

“It is not a mindset that should be applied or transferred from our past experience to any other jurisdiction today”. Ireland had to be “sensitive to the factors that lead parents in less well-off countries to place their children for adoption” and many would not give their children up if they could financially support them, he said.

Opening the debate, Ms Fitzgerald said events in Mexico served to reinforce the need to “ensure that all intercountry adoptions are properly regulated and effected in accordance with the provisions of the Hague Convention”, a set of “core standards designed to ensure good practice”. She said there was no provision for private adoptions in Mexico. The Adoption Authority registered 341 foreign adoptions in 2003, rising to a high of 397 in 2008, she added. The number had declined since, with about 200 inter-country adoptions in 2010 and 2011.

© 2012 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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