First of approved adoption agencies to open

The Irish Times – Monday, May 30, 2011

MINISTER FOR Children Frances Fitzgerald will today launch Ireland’s first accredited adoption mediation agency.

Arc Adoption will provide assistance to prospective parents seeking to adopt children abroad. Its chief executive is Shane Downer, former head of the International Adoption Association.

Since the passing of the Adoption Act last year, regulating inter-country adoptions, children can only be adopted from countries which have signed up to the Hague Convention or with whom Ireland has a bilateral agreement.

The convention seeks to ensure children are only adopted outside their country of origin when domestic adoption is not available and that the process is fully consensual and free from financial inducement.

The Adoption Act also provided for the establishment of an adoption authority.

“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,” Mr Downer said.

He said Arc had been approved to work with Bulgaria and to try to develop a special needs programme with China. “In addition, Arc has expressed a strong interest in seeking to work with Vietnam, as soon as Vietnam ratifies the Hague Convention,” he said.

Adoptions from Vietnam were suspended following grave concerns expressed by the UN’s International Social Service. Earlier this month the chairman and chief executive of the Adoption Authority Geoffrey Shannon and Elizabeth Canavan visited the country and said significant improvements had taken place since concerns emerged in November 2008.