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Changing face of inter-country adoptions post-2010

08 Jan 2020 / Ireland Print

The changed face of inter-country adoption post-2010

Detailed research by the Adoption Authority shows that there were 4,989 inter-country adoptions approved in Ireland, between January 1991 and September 2019.

In the first decade under examination, from January 1991 to October 2010, there were 4,282 inter-country adoptions from 33 countries. The vast majority of the overall figure, therefore, took place in the years to October 2010.

And, 83% of these children came from just five countries – Russia, Romania, Vietnam, China and Ethiopia.

Steep decline

From November 2010 to September 2019, there were 707 intercountry adoptions from 23 countries – comparatively a steep decline in numbers.

The decline in inter-country adoptions since 2010 was a direct result of Ireland’s ratification of the 1993 Hague Convention on 1 November of that year.

This limited the number of countries from which couples could adopt and imposed rigorous standards for the recognition of inter-country adoption.

Best interests of children

Inter-country adoption post-2010 was not just about facilitating those adoptions but regulating it in a manner that best promoted the best interests of children, according to adoption experts.

The Adoption Authority research divides into two categories, pre- and post- the Adoption Act 2010.

A full 80% of those children adopted from 2010 onwards came from just five countries: Russia, Vietnam, Ethiopia, USA and China.

However, inter-country adoptions no longer take place from Russia, Romania or Ethiopia.

Current ages

The report also shows the current ages of the adopted individuals.

The vast majority (81%) of those adopted are currently aged six to 16, while there is a large number of adults in the 29-31-age bracket.

The number of older children/young adults falls steadily thereafter until the age of 28.

However, the numbers then rise sharply: 11% of all individuals adopted as children in this period are now aged 29 – 31.

This figure is largely driven by the high number of infants adopted from Romania in the early 1990s.

Commencement of act

Provision was made in the Adoption Act 1991 for the then Adoption Board to enter into the Register of Foreign Adoptions children who were the subject of an inter-country adoption up to the age of 21, if their adoption had occurred prior to the enactment of the legislation, or up to the age of 18 if their adoption had occurred after the commencement of the act.

This accounts for a small number of individuals aged 34-49 (0.6% of the total number of children adopted in this period).

Chairman of the Adoption Authority Dr Geoffrey Shannon (pictured) told Gazette.ie: “This is important and detailed research, showing the history of inter-country adoption in Ireland for almost 30 years, and it will inform further research by the authority.”

Habitually resident

The report refers to adoptive parents habitually resident in Ireland, and to adoptions entered at the time in the Register of Foreign Adoptions.

From 1991-2010, a total of:

  • 145 children were adopted from Belarus,
  • 17 from Brazil,
  • 381 from China,
  • 18 from Colombia,
  • 197 from Ethiopia,
  • 145 from Kazakhstan,
  • 82 from Mexico,
  • seven from Paraguay,
  • 807 from Romania,
  • 1,414 from Russia,
  • 14 from Taiwan,
  • 100 from Thailand,
  • 99 from Ukraine,
  • 11 from Britain,
  • 31 from the US,
  • 785 from Vietnam.

The profile of adopted children changed after 2010. Children were adopted in that period from 23 countries, including:

  • 23 from Bulgaria,
  • 49 from China,
  • 11 from Ethiopia,
  • 24 from India,
  • 6 from Kazakhstan,
  • 26 from Mexico,
  • 215 from Russia,
  • eight from Taiwan,
  • 29 from Thailand,
  • seven from Britain,
  • 79 from the US,
  • 114 from Vietnam. 

Middle childhood

The majority of children adopted since 2010 are described as being in middle childhood. More than half are aged nine to 11; with the six to 12-year bracket accounting for 86%.

Children and young adults aged 14-26 account for just 2% of the overall total in this timeframe.

The research notes that the highest numbers of children adopted into Ireland across both time periods came from four countries: Russia, Vietnam, Ethiopia and China.

“The large number adopted from Romania prior to 2010 was very much a product of the social and political circumstances at the time, peaking in 1992, and decreasing steadily thereafter,” the researchers say.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland