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Adoption process in Ireland now ‘full of fear and desperation’


Adoption process in Ireland now ‘full of fear and desperation’

Michael Commins talks to a Mayo couple who fear red tape will stop them from ever adopting a child

HEARTACHE, desperation and fear comprise the emotions of many involved in the adoption process here in Ireland these times. Prospective adoptive parents who thought they were in the final stages of the long journey have found their hopes smashed and dashed by new procedures and exorbitant financial demands that have led to widespread devastation for many couples whose hearts are set on the adoption process.
The dismay, frustration and dejection being experienced by many around the country has been highlighted on the Joe Duffy Liveline Show on RTÉ Radio One and a number of regional stations over the past few months. But those at the coalface feel they are being stalled at every twist by procedures and the creation of new accredited agencies here in Ireland which have seen costs more than treble, leaving many completely stranded, disillusioned and under severe financial strain.
Tom and Sharon (not their real names) reside in the South Mayo region and believed they were very close to adopting a child from Bulgaria, having gone through all the necessary legal procedures and having secured all the required clearances along the way. They had signed an official contact with the Bulgarian agency, Anido, for €5,255, the fee required to complete the adoption process.
Tom takes up the story. “Once we received our official declaration of suitability we thought the rest of our journey would be straightforward and easy. But such was not the case.
“Following Ireland’s ratification of The Hague Convention in 2010, the only countries open to us to adopt from were Hague compliant countries. The Hague was set up to safeguard the welfare of the child and regulate the process of adoption and to stop unscrupulous people who were charging large sums of money to prospective adoptive parents. This was not always the case but it did happen in a lot of cases and effectively amounted to the buying of children.
“You can imagine our delight when we heard all these safeguards were in place. We selected our country, made contact with the accredited agency in Bulgaria (Anido) and with the accredited agency in Ireland called ARC. In order to complete an adoption with a Hague compliant country, you have to go through an accredited agency.”
Tom explained that the Adoption Authority of Ireland is responsible for the accreditation of such agencies.
“We met with ARC in October 2011. We had all the necessary documentation in order. We also signed our contract with Anido and agreed their fee price of €5,255 in total.”
But just when they thought they were sailing into the calm waters of the harbour, an unexpected storm blew up in their faces.
 “ARC informed us that the Anido Agency was coming to Cork in November 2011 to outline the whole adoption process in Bulgaria and that it would be a benefit to attend . The meeting soon became a nightmare for the crowd of between 150 and 200 who turned up on the day.
“ARC Adoption announced new fee structures for which they had received approval for the day before from the Adoption Authority of Ireland. The total fee was now to be €16,650 of which €2,750 was to be a refundable registration fee to be paid back over 30 months. There was outrage at the meeting and representatives of Anido had to take control to pacify the audience.
“Since Ireland ratified The Hague in 2010, there has been no post Hague adoptions in Ireland and, to date, we have only had one actual referral from Bulgaria but no adoption. ARC was the only accredited agency in Ireland at the time so we had to go with them. Prospective adoptive parents have journeyed a long road of infertility before they have started on the road to adoption.”
Tom feels he and his wife have done everything that was required of them.
“We, like many more, had developed good and personal contacts with the people in Bulgaria but that is no use to us now. The one thing we have learned since we went down the road of adoption is that there is fear and desperation among hundreds of prospective and adoptive parents. We live in hope that Adoption Authority of Ireland will streamline the process and try and give couples all over the country some light at the end of the tunnel.”

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