Government adopts inter-country adoption standards

Paul Cullen

January 23, 2009 / The Irish Times

New legislation providing for uniform standards of child protection for all inter-country adoptions has been published by the Government.

The Adoption Bill 2009 gives force of law to the Hague Convention, the main international statute governing inter-country adoptions. Ireland signed the convention in 1993 but has yet to ratify it.

The new bill also consolidates all existing laws on adoption into a single piece of adoption, and establishes the Adoption Authority of Ireland with expanded powers to replace the Adoption Board.

Minister for Children Barry Andrews, who launched the bill in Government Buildings today, said children’s interests would be paramount at all times in the adoption process. “The Government’s aim in bringing forward this piece of legislation is to support and protect prospective parents, and even more importantly, the children for whom adoption services are devised and provided," he said.

The Hague Convention provides safeguards to ensure that the fundamental rights of a child in an inter-country adoption are respected in both its country of birth and the country of adoption. Further safeguards aim to prevent the abduction, sale of, or trafficking in children for adoption.

Once the bill becomes law, it will only be possible to adopt children from other countries which have ratified the Hague Convention, or countries with which Ireland has a bilateral agreement. In effect, this means that Irish parents will no longer be able to adopt from countries which do not have agreements with Ireland or have not ratified the convention, unless agreement are drawn up before the bill is enacted.

Mr Andrews said his officials were working to “assess the possibility” of entering bilateral agreements with countries such as Vietnam, Ethiopia and Russia. Some 5,000 children have come to Ireland under inter-county adoptions, with about 1,400 of these coming from countries not covered by the Hague Convention or bilateral agreements.

The bill reflected the fact that adoption had changed greatly since it was legislated for in the 1952 Adoption Act, he said. At that time, and until the 1990s, the vast majority of children adopted in Ireland were Irish children. However, since attitudes softened towards lone parents, such adoptions were relatively rare and most adoptions in Ireland today were inter-country ones.

The Minister acknowledged the drafting of the bill had been a lengthy and complex process but said this had the advantage of allowing Ireland to benefit from the experience of other Western countries which ratified the Hague Convention before us.

Under the bill, adopting parents will have to show they are of good moral character, healthy and of adequate financial means before their adoption is approved. While no upper age limit is included in the bill, there must be a reasonable expectation that prospective adoptive parents will be able to fulfil their parental duties until the child turns 18.

Mr Andrews rejected calls for a “grandfather clause” which would allow parents who have already adopted a child from a country not covered by the Hague Convention or a bilateral agreement to adopt a subsequent child from the same country. He said there could be no dilution of the standards in the bill: “Allowing some individuals to adopt from a country simply because they’ve adopted from there before would create a double standard and a dilution of the standards which must apply all the time”.

The bill is likely to take a year before it come into law.

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What, exactly, does The Hague say about "child safety"?

I can all but laugh when I read the following qualifications needed to pass as an AP:

Under the bill, adopting parents will have to show they are of good moral character, healthy and of adequate financial means before their adoption is approved. While no upper age limit is included in the bill, there must be a reasonable expectation that prospective adoptive parents will be able to fulfil their parental duties until the child turns 18.

"Good moral character", like that found in this fine Maryland couple, who adopted from Costa Rica, or from this fine fella who saved a child from the Dominican Republic, or these moral-minded people from Missouri who just had to have two children from Peru, or (my personal favorite) this fun-loving Adad who couldn't resist the face of a poor Russian girl?

I'm sure all  the AP's named in our collected Abused Adoptee Pages were all once seen as having "good moral character", as per the pre-screened words given by their various adoption agencies.  [Seems only God can save all those adopted souls....]

So... if the The Hague Convention has trouble keeping record of the number of children being touched by inter-country adoption, [See:  "Where did they go?" ] how are we all to believe adoptions through the Hague Treaty are going to guarantee good safe homes for children in need of protective custody?

Does anyone within the international adoption law community dare to define what's "good moral character", and does any one propose just how this can be found when it seems so many accredited adoption agencies are not doing extensive back-ground checks on all PAP's?

In other words, DOES the Hague Convention really take "child safety" seriously, or is that an adoption issue that has yet to be established?

It is shocking isn't it

"Good moral character", like that found in this fine Maryland couple, who adopted from Costa Rica, or from this fine fella who saved a child from the Dominican Republic, or these moral-minded people from Missouri who just had to have two children from Peru, or (my personal favorite) this fun-loving Adad who couldn't resist the face of a poor Russian girl?

While I've known for years about the Allen and Peckenpaugh cases, I just stumbled on the Costa Rica, Dom Rep, Peru adoptee cases, plus a few more sexual abuse cases using Newsbank searches.

Not so shocking...

It's not at all shocking to me that people have to pay A LOT of money to learn the truth about the state of child-care taking place around this bloody world.  (It simply sickens me beyond my usual grief that this is how people want to operate.  Sadly, this is the very reason why I made abused adoptees my personal business, and why I  can barely afford to keep this information free for all people to read.)

<fading into black, repeating to myself:  "it did NOT have to be this way... it did NOT have to be this way....it will all be ok if only I could believe it did NOT have to be this way">

I can all but laugh when I

I can all but laugh when I read the following qualifications needed to pass as an AP:

Under the bill, adopting parents will have to show they are of good moral character, healthy and of adequate financial means before their adoption is approved. While no upper age limit is included in the bill, there must be a reasonable expectation that prospective adoptive parents will be able to fulfil their parental duties until the child turns 18.

There is nothing wrong with setting standards like this for adoption.  The fact that some adoptive parents fail to meet these standards doesn't invalidate setting forth standards such as the one stated above.

Do you find the code of ethics for the nursing profession hilarious?  During my employment in the health services industry, I knew several nurses whom I wouldn't trust providing health care services to a gerbil. I imagine one could compile hundreds of cases where nurses have provided substandard health care.  Does that make standards for nursing professionals a joke?  I would think not, but that's just me.

Now, the adoptive parents "riding the babes" joke passed around a month or so ago, that was a real but guster.  Color me not amused.

Dad

standards, what standards?

I think there is a big difference between the code of ethics in certain professions and standards set for adoptive/foster parents. Parenting is not a profession, there is never a point when you can lay off the uniform and stop being a parent. In every profession there is point where you leave the building and the assumed role of professional stops there. A profession also has a distinct set of obligations, something parenting does not. Of course there are many things parents are more or less required to do for a child, but parenting goes above and beyond those obligations. It's therefore much more difficult to define proper standards for adoptive/foster parents.

Good moral values is not a standard. It means something very different to Lutheran Social Services in Michigan than to a non-denominational foster care agency in let's say California. As such it's nothing more than a hollow phrase and when looking at what goes wrong in foster care, it's evident that those good moral values have often not been measured at all. Good moral values are not measured by doing a criminal back ground check, because far too many people that will not be good to children have never run into the law.

With so many adoption/foster are agencies it's also very easy for parents that want to adopt/foster to simply go to a laxer agency when not approved by one that is very strict. As long as there is money to be made by placing children, there will be agencies that will interpret the standards according to their business needs, not according to the child's best interest.

At least make a stronger effort

I've been thinking a lot about my own anger-issues as it relates to adoption, and I believe it all comes down to one single thing:  Why are so many fostered/adopted children placed in homes/places that are so dangerous?   [Orphanages, Children's Homes and Attachment therapy are perfect examples how "good intentions" can become so terrifying and deadly.]

Just like I blame bad health-care (nursing-care as you used in your example) on a hospital administration, I blame bad adoption experiences on the industry and various administration groups that allow child abuse and neglect (post-placement) to go unaddressed and ignored.

In other words, it's not always the first-parents who do the most damage to a child.... in many cases, it's where the child is placed -- the so-called safe havens -- that harm a child most, and I don't at all find that remotely acceptable.  I find it sickening, in fact... and for the life of me, I don't understand why child safety is not a higher priority in child placement.

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