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Couples held in Mexico facing ban on adoptions

By Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent
Irish Independent, Friday January 20 2012

THE Irish couples being questioned by police in Mexico who are investigating alleged child trafficking now risk being banned from adopting in the future.

Around 11 Irish couples are under investigation for allegedly being involved in the trafficking of children whom they intended to adopt.

Yesterday, an official said four of the 10 children seized during the investigation in western Mexico showed signs of sexual abuse.

The Adoption Authority in Ireland is now expected to re-examine the Irish couples' declaration giving them permission to adopt.

Under new legislation introduced in November 2010, when Ireland ratified the child-protection Hague Treaty, the authority for the first time has the right to withdraw the declaration if it considers people to be unsuitable parents.

This would mean that they would be banned from adopting a child abroad in the future.

The chairman of the Adoption Authority, Geoffrey Shannon, said yesterday that he could not comment on the cases in Mexico.

But he confirmed that the authority had new powers of withdrawal of declarations which it has not invoked since the new legislation came into force.

Mr Shannon said the Adoption Authority had issued several warnings about the ban on private adoptions in Mexico over several months and that a delegation had travelled to the country in December after concerns came to light.

Tomas Coronado, the attorney general in Jalisco in Mexico said the children were examined by doctors, but offered no other details.

"There are four children who show signs of having been abused (sexually), perhaps not in a violent way but there are signs (of abuse)," Mr Coronado said.

He could not elaborate because of the investigation and did not say when the alleged abuse would have taken place.

There is no suggestion that any of the Irish couples were involved in child abuse.

Fifteen Irish citizens have already talked to authorities, said a spokesman for Jalisco state prosecutors.

The foreign couples were giving 1,200 pesos (€145) a week to the mothers since pregnancy and paying their medical bills.

Later, the Mexican mothers would also be paid for allowing the children to stay with the couples while the purported adoption process proceeded, Mr Coronado said.

"The great majority of the people from Ireland who have given their testimony have said they thought it was part of the adoption protocol in the state to be paying. That obviously means (someone was making) a profit," he said.

Investigators are trying to determine if the Irish couples "acted in bad faith", Mr Coronado said, or if they were being tricked.

The Irish embassy in Mexico said that it was providing consular advice to the couples involved.

Yesterday, about a dozen state police officers raided a two-storey home in a middle-class Guadalajara neighbourhood that local media said belonged to the lawyers processing the adoptions.

- Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

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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." 

Alex Haley, Author of Roots 





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