A major report on illegal practices in intercountry adoption has cited the Irish case of Tressa Reeves as a documented example of illegal adoption.
Ms Reeves’s case was cited in the International Social Services (ISS) report: Investigating Grey Zones in Intercountry Adoption, as a documented case of illegal adoption along with other examples from the US, Germany, and India among others.
The Adoption Authority has been aware of the case since 2001, as have three former children’s ministers: Brian Lenihan, Mary Hanafin, and Barry Andrews.
Despite Ms Reeves’s son being illegally adopted, the authority has, so far, refused to assist her in tracing her son. It has also declined to inform her son about his origins.
The case — first exposed by the Irish Examiner in 2010 — concerned Ms Reeves, an Englishwoman whose son was illegally adopted and falsely registered as the natural child of the adoptive parents.
This was facilitated by St Patrick’s Guild adoption agency. It allowed a couple to take the child without a formal adoption order being made. The couple then falsely registered the child as their own.
In letters to Ms Reeves, the agency admitted it had placed at least one other child in the same way.
It also sent more than 500 "illegitimate" children to the US between 1947 and 1967.
Despite this, the agency was the first to be accredited by the Adoption Authority upon the commencement of the Adoption Act in 2010 to assist adopted people and natural parents.
The ISS report primarily focuses on major zones of corruption in intercountry adoption involving children being kidnapped and sold for adoption; fraud and money being used as inducements to obtain relinquishments; and false documentation being supplied to cover up these means of illicitly obtaining children.
It also hits out at many of the "misconceptions" surrounding intercountry adoption which it claims are largely fuelled by the media — primarily that there are large numbers of toddlers and babies in need of adoption around the world.
It stresses demand for adoptable children outstrips the number that are declared adoptable, and that supply is decreasing due to better living conditions and increased domestic solutions.
The ISS study points out that the main demand by Western couples "is for healthy babies and toddlers, while most of the children truly in need of adoption today are much older or with special needs".
The celebrity culture of quick and easy adoption is also criticised. "ICA undoubtedly still suffers from misconceptions that still consider countries in the "South" as inexhaustible sources of adoptable children.
"Too many applicants still live with the illusion that, given the state of the world, adoption will be simple and fast," it states.