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By Carol Coulter
September 24, 2009/ Irish Times
THE CHAIRMAN of the Adoption Board, Geoffrey Shannon, has told the Minister for Children, Barry Andrews, that he is available to travel immediately to Vietnam to assist the Irish embassy there in processing 20 adoptions agreed between the Irish and Vietnamese authorities last summer.
These applications had been received in Vietnam before the expiry last May of the bilateral agreement between the two countries on adoption.
Progress on an interim agreement is awaiting consideration by the Minister of two reports on child protection and adoption in Vietnam. In the meantime adoptions from Vietnam will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Adoption Board.
Mr Shannon also said in a statement yesterday that inter-country adoption “carries inherent risks wherever it is carried out” and that the Hague Convention on inter-country adoptions provides the best available framework for managing those risks. It will be ratified when the Adoption Bill goes through the Oireachtas.
Pending the resolution of issues contained in the two reports, which he said highlighted the need to ensure appropriate arrangements to safeguard any adoptions, the board had advised the Minister it was seeking the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs in processing these 20 applications.
Mr Shannon’s statement follows a call from Fine Gael Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames to enlist the aid of Cork-based adoption agency Helping Hands in processing the adoptions. She said on Tuesday that the Department of Foreign Affairs did not have expertise in this area, and that the Adoption Board and Helping Hands “have worked closely and competently together now for many years”.
The two reports referred to by Mr Shannon are a Vietnamese government report on child protection and adoption, the Molisa report drawn up with the aid of Unicef, and an unpublished draft UN report from its International Social Service, the ISS report. The ISS report was highly critical of the Helping Hands agency.
A final version is expected to be published in the coming weeks.
Mr Shannon added: “The board understands the stress the applicants involved in these 20 adoptions ... are under but hopes that applicants will appreciate that these adoptions must proceed in a manner which will protect the integrity of the adoptions