ARC Adoption has become the first agency accredited to operate as an adoption mediation agency under the Adoption Act.
The agency, which is headed up by Shane Downer, the former head of the International Adoption Association, will provide assistance to prospective parents seeking to adopt from abroad.
Under the act, which was passed in November of last year, Irish people can only adopt children from a Hague Convention country or from a country with which Ireland has a bilateral agreement.
Chairman of the Adoption Authority Geoffrey Shannon said the act would allow for “a full regime of accreditation and inspection” of accredited agencies to ensure they are acting in the best interests of the child.
“Having a system of accreditation and inspection gives the assurance that everyone involved in and affected by adoption should have,” he said.
“In this sensitive policy area, confidence in the organisations and individuals providing services is critical to the operation of a safe and transparent system of adoption both in Ireland and abroad.”
Mr Downer said the agency was committed to providing a child-centred service.
“Arc Adoption is committed to building child-centred and fully transparent adoption services so that children in need of permanent, loving and secure homes can find them in Ireland,” he said.
Mr Downer said that, to date, the agency has been approved to work with Bulgaria and to try and develop a special needs programme with China. It has also expressed a strong interest in seeking to work with Vietnam, as soon as it ratifies the Hague Convention, which is not expected until October at the earliest.
Ireland ceased adopting children from Vietnam after it chose not to resume its bilateral agreement with the country in May 2009.
This decision was taken based on concerns raised in Unicef’s International Social Services report. The report cited major concerns that there was virtually “no active promotion of domestic adoptions” in Vietnam so that children could, at the very least, remain in their country of birth.
The report also found that adoptions from the country were influenced by foreign demand rather than the needs of actual “abandoned” and orphaned children.
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