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Foreign Adoption System Is Slow And Bureaucratic

Posted on: February 20th, 2008

On Tuesday, I debated the issue of foreign adoptions. This processis a slow and bureaucratic one, and causes extreme pain, difficulties and sadness to a large number of families in Ireland. I am struck by the number of people who have approached me on this subject who were frustrated by a system that works badly and could be improved quickly. Here’s what I told Minister Maire Hoctor, who was representing the Government:

It is a simple equation in some ways. There is a supply of children overseas who need happy homes badly and there are approximately 2,000 Irish people willing and anxious to take them on board and to provide them with happy homes. Some of the children live overseas in awful conditions of great poverty and in orphanages and should be provided with homes. The only element that is lacking is a speedy and fair system to hurry up the ultimate solution, namely, a happy upbringing.

What is the problem? Many were under the impression that it lay in the adoption systems abroad, but that is not the case. However, much of the blame for the delay experienced by Irish people who are anxious to adopt lies in Ireland. No one should take away the need for a rigorous and robust assessment of parents who seek to give homes to children and the State must ensure, as far as humanly possible, that the children are given happy, safe and secure homes and parents who will care for them and raise them well. Nobody who is frustrated by the system contests the need for rigorous assessment. What is at issue is the extraordinary slowness and the pain it causes parents who believe they are on the road to bringing up children, but find themselves frustrated.

I hope the Minister of State’s speech will give some comfort to the parents because the progress made in recent years is deplorable. The situation is getting much worse, not better

Minister Hoctor claimed that they had “introduced a range of measures to improve waiting times for intercountry adoption” and that they wanted to assure me “of the Minister of State’s attention to this issue and reiterate the importance of a rigorous and effective assessment system that is provided on a timely, fair and transparent basis.”

I was extremely disappointed with this reply:

I have been a Member of this House for a very long time but I do not believe I ever digested such rhubarb as was offered in that reply, which was unbelievable garbage. It is no good to tell us there will be reviews of this, that and the other.

The next time this matter arises I hope the Minister of State will not wipe his hands of the issue, as happened today, because it is difficult due to the involvement of other regimes. We need more than reviews as they are merely a political way of choosing inaction. What will be done for potential parents who must sometimes wait for up to eight years? There is a clog in the system and the Irish bureaucracy is at fault. The Minister of State’s reply offers no comfort.

To read the full text of the debate, click here.