The number of Irish couples adopting foreign children has plummeted since 2010 because the system has become too complex.
At that stage, Ireland signed up to the Hague Convention, which has seen a sharp drop in the number of foreign children coming here.
According to figures released by James Reilly’s Department of Children, the number of foreign children adopted here five years ago was 200; last year just 34 were processed.
The numbers were provided to Mr Reilly by the Adoption Authority of Ireland, and show a marginal increase in the number of adoptions on 2014 — which has been linked to the improving economy.
Signing up to the Hague Convention meant that anyone in the State who was trying to adopt a child from abroad, and whose legal permission to adopt was granted after that date, could now do so only from a country that complied with the Hague convention.
The Adoption Rights Alliance has welcomed the sharp reduction in the numbers coming in, saying that, before Ireland signed up to the terms of Hague, adopting parents here essentially “went to market” in some of the world’s poorest and most corrupt countries to secure a child.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Susan Lohan of the alliance said it is “most welcome” that the numbers of inter-country adoptions has fallen, as the Hague Convention has helped clean up a previously murky system.
“Globally, inter-country adoptions are falling and that is a positive thing,” she said. “Under the terms of Hague, we are bound to transact only with other Hague countries. It has reduced the rogue element or sinister element out of the adoption process.”
Ms Lohan said those who engage in such foreign adoptions must remember that they do not have an automatic right to a child.
“The paradigm in this country is that we have a right to a child and it is the State’s role to get us a child. That is insidious,” she said. “In fact, most other countries recognise that Ireland is using the foreign adoption as a sop to adult need, rather than child welfare.
“Irish people are taking advantage of illiterate, disadvantaged women in poor, corrupt countries.”
Before November 2010, government agreements meant the principal countries from which Irish people could adopt children were Russia, Ethiopia, and Vietnam — knownas the Republic’s “sending countries”.
Russia and Ethiopia do not comply with the convention, so are no longer options for anyone with a declaration issued after November 2010, a “post-Hague declaration”.
Those countries are also now closed to people who adopted from them with pre-Hague declarations and had hoped to return to adopt another child. Lobby groups have been established for both Russia and Ethiopia, seeking bilateral agreements with the Republic, but so far they have had no success.
Mr Reilly has resisted substantial pressure to sign such a deal with Russia, which advocacy groups have welcomed.
Bulgaria complies with the convention, and a number of Irish people have sent their applications there, but since 2010 just one Bulgarian child has been adopted from Ireland by parents with a post-Hague declaration.
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