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Ethiopian adoptees may never be granted citizenship


Ethiopian adoptees may never be granted citizenship

By Aodhan O'Faolain
Friday November 02 2007

A COUPLE who went to the High Court for permission to bring back an Ethiopian baby for adoption were told yesterday that the child may never gain Irish citizenship.

The Adoption Board told the High Court that it was unsure about whether Ethiopian law on adoption is compatible with Irish law.

The concerns have raised doubt over whether children adopted from Ethiopia may ultimately be registered as citizens here.

The situation has yet to be fully clarified, the board said.

Some 60 adoptions have been registered since 1991 and the Adoption Board is recording an increase in annual figures with a current average of nine a year.

It has implications for the couple who have already adopted one child from Ethiopia and are hoping to adopt another, a baby girl who is the subject of the current challenge.

They say the proposed second adoption may fall through within days if they do not get certain necessary documents.

Peter Finlay SC, for the couple, told an earlier hearing that the Minister for Justice had previously granted the necessary immigration clearance for them to bring the child from Ethiopia and the matter was one of urgency.

In addition, the Adoption Board has confirmed the couple have documents stating they are suitable and eligible to adopt a child outside the state.

Kiernan Gildea, registrar of the board, said in an affidavit it is mindful of the stress involved for those undertaking inter-country adoptions.

But the board cannot provide full assurance that Ethiopian adoptions are compatible with Irish law.

Prospective parents had been advised of the situation, he said.

The hearing of proceedings by the couple against the board was heard before Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan.

Counsel's opinion relating to Ethiopian law indicated the adopted child retained their bonds with their family of origin.


It also appears that Ethiopian law could, in certain circumstances, allow a claim for maintenance to be made by an adopted child against their natural family.

The adopted child could also be obliged to provide maintenance for members of that family, the board was also advised.

Gerry Durcan SC for the Adoption Board said he could categorically state that no instructions were given by the Adoption Board not to issue any documents to the couple.

Somebody told the Department of Foreign Affairs or the Embassy not to give papers, counsel added. He said the board had not told the couple they cannot travel but had simply advised them they should no do so at present.

- Aodhan O'Faolain

2007 Nov 2