'Ratify Hague Convention' Urges Alliance

Published date: 
24 Sep 2009

By Jillian van Turnhout

‘The current lapsing of a bilateral adoption agreement between Ireland and Vietnam has spotlighted the need for the urgent ratification by Ireland of the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoptions – the international standard setter in the area of adoption.  Although we recognise progress is being made, the Vietnamese Government report (MOLISA/UNICEF report) makes for worrying reading in relation to the weaknesses of child protection and adoption systems.

The Children’s Rights Alliance acknowledges the personal stress and upset that any change in inter-country adoption procedures has on prospective adoptive parents.  

Adoption is a pathway to realising a child’s right to grow up in a family.  When discussing adoption, we rightly focus on the story of prospective adoptive parents, but often we lose sight of the fact that adoption is about children, their rights and needs.  In all adoption decisions, the best interests of the child must be paramount.

Unfortunately, the adoption system can fall foul to criminal activity, including corruption and the sale or trafficking of children.  It is thus critical that a rigorous verification process be put in place for all adoptions.  At present, the Irish adoption system has different levels of safeguards for national and international adoptions.  The Adoption Bill 2009, currently before the Dáil, will enable Ireland to ratify the Hague Convention and standardise our adoption system.  The passage of the Bill must be prioritised to ensure that children are adequately protected within the adoption system.

We appeal to all involved – prospective parents, children, and statutory and voluntary agencies – to work together, guided by international best practice, to secure for children happy and safe childhoods where their best interests are served.’

Jillian van Turnhout

Chief Executive

Notes to Editor

1. Article 21 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
States Parties that recognize and/or permit the system of adoption shall ensure that the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration and they shall:
a)    ensure that the adoption of a child is authorized only by competent authorities who determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures and on the basis of all pertinent and reliable information, that the adoption is permissible in view of the child's status concerning parents, relatives and legal guardians and that, if required, the persons concerned have given their informed consent to the adoption on the basis of such counselling as may be necessary;
b)    recognize that inter-country adoption may be considered as an alternative means of child's care, if the child cannot be placed in a foster or an adoptive family or cannot in any suitable manner be cared for in the child's country of origin;
c)    ensure that the child concerned by inter-country adoption enjoys safeguards and standards equivalent to those existing in the case of national adoption;
d)    take all appropriate measures to ensure that, in the case of inter-country adoption, the placement does not result in improper financial gain for those involved in it; and
e)    promote, where appropriate, the objectives of the present article by concluding bilateral or multilateral arrangements or agreements and endeavour, within this framework, to ensure that the placement of the child in another country is carried out by competent authorities or organs.

    Available for download at: http://www.childrensrights.ie/files/UNCRC-CRC1989.pdf

    2. The 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption can be downloaded at: http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.text&cid=69

    3. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child considered the second periodic report of Ireland in 2006 and on 29 September 2006 issued the following concluding observations in relation to adoption:

      34. The Committee remains concerned that the legislation in place does not fully correspond to international standards, particularly with respect to protection in intercountry adoptions, and does not take the best interests of the child into consideration. The Committee is also concerned that the measures taken to review current legislation are slow.

      35. The Committee recommends that the State party expedite its efforts to enact and implement the legislative reforms, ensure that all relevant legislation is in conformity with international standards, and that the best interests of the child are a primary consideration.

      Children's Rights Alliance