There is an enormous difference between
what works on an individual level and what works as a social
policy. As a public policy, adoption cannot be the long-range
solution for infertility, even though it obviously works for many
individuals. It does not work as a social policy because it makes
us dependent on the grief of one group of people to solve the problems
of another group of people.
Barbara Katz Rothman
Recreating Motherhood, Ideology and Technology in a Patriarchal
We believe that the Irish
State is shoring up major breaches of human rights with regard to
children being adopted from overseas.
The Irish State has always focused on the demands of prospective
adoptive parents for access to new countries of origin, despite well
documented cases of corruption surrounding adoption in countries such as
Vietnam where domestic adoption does not exist. When it is considered
that Vietnam does not have a domestic adoption department with clear
procedures to encourage adoptions within the country, it seems unlikely
that present Vietnamese adoptions are not influenced by foreign demand.
Our concerns are so grave that we have raised the human rights
violations associated with intercountry adoptions in our
report to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review.
from the US
The Adoption Act 2010 ratified the Hague Convention for the Protection
of Children in Intercountry Adoption, which opened up new countries to
Irish prospective adopters. It
emerged some time ago that the AAI sent a delegation to the US to
discuss adoptions from there. As
there is undoubtedly no shortage of prospective adopters in the US, we
fail to understand the necessity for Irish people to “rescue”
American children. From what
we have seen to date, the ratification of the Hague Convention appears
to be seen as an opportunity to procure children from previously
unavailable countries, rather than a child protection measure.
The act of ratifying the Hague Convention was diluted under the Adoption
Act 2010 because under the legislation bilateral agreements have been
permitted, merely requiring these agreements to “have regard for”
Hague, rather than being conducted “in accordance with” the
Convention. This begs the
question that if a country has not yet ratified the high water mark of
the Hague Convention, then should the AAI even consider them as a
suitable sending country? This
proved to be the case with the 2005 bilateral agreement between Ireland
and Vietnam, which the then Minister for Children only suspended on foot
of international revelations about illegal adoption practices in Vietnam
We are gravely concerned that Vietnam has now "re-opened" for
prospective adoptive parents who were allegedly “caught in limbo”.
The Ombudsman for Children, Emily Logan appears to share our
concerns, as outlined in her opinion
piece in the Irish Times, yet we were alarmed to hear the reaction
of a representative group for prospective adoptive parents which
suggested that the Ombudsman for Children should remain quiet about
potentially questionable adoptions that have already taken place, for
the sake of the children involved. It
is even more important to speak up in these instances, so that if there
is anything dubious about a particular adoption, the correct information
can be obtained from the country of origin so that a full, comprehensive
and truthful family history is available to the children in question.
Brushing corruption under the carpet is never child centred.
In the absence of a Guardian
ad Litem in the Irish adoption process, contrary to the assertions
of the aforementioned organisation, we believe it is very appropriate for the Ombudsman for Children to speak up for the
rights of the voiceless child in intercountry adoption.
In her article, Emily Logan correctly reminds us of the long-term
effects of adoption and Adoption Rights Alliance can bear witness to
those effects because of the work we do with adult adopted people every
of the Hague Convention
We fear that in the effort to find “available” children to adopt,
that the principles of the Hague Convention are often forgotten about.
The Hague Convention stipulates that intercountry adoption should
be a measure of last resort, when all other avenues (such as placing a
child with his/her extended family or with a family in their local
community or elsewhere within their own country) have been exhausted.
Contrary to this principle, the focus seems to be on finding
countries with adoptable children, rather than focusing on how best to
help vulnerable children in the developing world.
A truly child centred agenda would pursue alternatives to adoption (such
as child sponsorship programmes) in developing countries, regardless of
whether these countries are available to prospective adopters.
We are concerned that there is a disproportionate focus on the
availability of children for adoption, rather than a determination to do
what is actually best for the children of Vietnam and other developing
of Foreign Adoptions
The Adoption Act 2010 discriminates even further against children
adopted from abroad by making the register of such adoptions closed to
public inspection so for the ill-educated, impoverished natural mother
from China, Vietnam, Russia etc who might actually make enquiries about
her child, the doors to self-searching have already been cut off.
from the past
When American couples adopted Irish children from the 1940’s to the
1970’s, they were told (and believed) that these children were
orphans. We now know that
the 2,000+ children secretly sent to America for adoption were not
orphans at all, in fact they had mothers who would have been happy to
raise them, were it not for the stigma of unmarried motherhood and the
resulting regime implemented by church and State.
Our US Coordinator, Mari Steed is one such “orphan” who
reunited with her natural mother in 2002.
We must learn from our
own nation’s past and realise that all may not be as it seems in
countries like Vietnam when it comes to “available” children for
adoption. In the rush to
“rescue” so-called orphans, we must not lose sight of the
possibility that they may well have families and communities willing to
raise them in their own country.
children in care/follow ups
We have been made aware that a number of intercountry adoptions have
broken down, whereby the adoptive parents cannot cope and the children
involved have ended up in in the Irish care system.
To date we have been unable to obtain records to investigate the
issue thoroughly and there appears to be a lack of transparency and
accountability in this matter with neither the AAI nor the HSE bothering
to record or report on such adoption breakdowns.
We are deeply concerned for the welfare of these children and we
believe that follow up services and regular reporting procedures should
be arranged for all adoptions.
We are aware that
arguments have often been made by adoptive parents that they are not
allowed to get on with their lives, just like any other family.
However, this is exactly the point – adoptive families are not
like other families and adoptive parenting is not like regular
parenting involves taking on a vulnerable and traumatised child who will
forever be linked to his/her natural family.
Even in non-adoptive families, parents can never claim ownership
of a child; however this is even truer in adoptive families.
Like divorced or separated people, who may not particularly like
each other, yet work together for the sake of their children, adoptive
parents should be selfless and ensure that their child knows they have
another family. E.g. the
term “forever family”, however well intentioned, is completely
inappropriate and can cause adopted children to feel they must abandon
thoughts about their natural family in order to be loyal to the adoptive
Adoption can never be
child centred as long as it is seen as a solution to infertility.
It is not the responsibility of vulnerable children to fulfil the
needs of adults who cannot conceive children of their own.
By worrying more about the sensitivities of adults who want to be
just like everybody else, the Irish State is failing these children who
have been brought here from other countries.