The Irish Government Posts WHAT Report As Authoritative??

The Irish government has posted on the website of the Ministry for Children a report on international adoptions from Vietnam, written and presented by the ISS–International Social Service based in Geneva–This report purports to be objective and independent!! Not only have I lived and worked in Ireland for many years; I know the context in which such a report would be received. I have also researched the work of the ISS and the ubiquitous Mr Nigel Cantwell (one of the authors) for many years–both the ISS and Mr. Cantwell have a long record of strident opposition to international adoption and should not in any way be seen as objective on the issue. (By way of comparison, look at the report on Ukrainian adoptions in which Mr Cantwell was a central figure, designed to impugn the motives of adoptive parents and essentially cast a pall over the adoption process–Do note the current grim situation of children in Ukrainian institutions….It is so sad that this report on Vietnamese adoption by ISS and Cantwell is receiving any credibility at all.)

The fact that the Irish government is using this report as objective evidence of anything is completely astonishing! It is also, in my view, completely irresponsible! Why doesn’t the Irish government carry out its own research?!

Here is the way the report opens–does it sound objective to you?? More anon on all this–

The level and nature of intercountry adoptions (ICA) from Viet Nam are essentially influenced by foreign demand. Thus, the availability of children who are “adoptable” abroad corresponds more to the existence of foreign prospective adopters than to the actual needs of “abandoned” and orphaned children. As a result, the overwhelming majority of adopted children are under 1 year of age, the age-group most sought by prospective adopters.  Since only a relatively small and ever-decreasing number of other “countries of origin” are currently making children of this age “adoptable” abroad, foreign actors have proved willing to accept conditions put in place by Viet Nam for processing these adoptions. There is also considerable pressure from abroad for Viet Nam to continue as a “source” of very young children.


The circumstances under which babies become “adoptable” are invariably unclear and disturbing. Declarations of so-called “abandonment”, which is notoriously difficult to investigate, are intriguingly frequent, but with unexplained “peaks” and “troughs”. Procedures for verifying the child’s status and, inter alia, for ensuring free and informed consent to adoption are inadequate and inconsistent. Decision-making on the availability of a child for ICA as opposed to a domestic solution (including return to the biological family) seems to take no account of the subsidiary nature of adoption abroad, with little or no effort being made to establish the child’s real need for the latter or to identify in-country care opportunities.


The ICA procedure is influenced by a remarkably unhealthy relationship that can exist between agencies and specific residential facilities. It involves compulsory and sizeable financial contributions by agencies in the form of “humanitarian aid” to facilities that they themselves have identified as potential “partners” in ICA. The question of “aid” generally seems to be given far more importance than ensuring that ICA is resorted to as an exceptional measure on a case-by-case basis. Agencies compete with each other to secure children and tend to expect that children will be “indicated” to them for ICA processing according to the amount of humanitarian aid provided. Agencies are subject to little or no monitoring, and neither they nor the residential facilities they work with have any incentive to address or notify problems, since the way the system presently functions is to the advantage of both.


2 thoughts on “The Irish Government Posts WHAT Report As Authoritative??

  1. Hi Sara
    Not that I disagree with you – as I too have found the vested interest of Mr Cantwell (e.g. previous author of UNICEF’s digest) not tallying with the label of ‘independent’ – but what do you say to those people that point out that the UNICEF report was commissioned by the Vietnamese government?

    As you’ve seen the report on the Minstry’s website (and probably read some of the other updates) you might also be aware that the report will be used to decide on the possible renewal of a bilateral adoption agreement with Vietnam.

    Kind regards & best wishes

    • Mr Cantwell has always had these links to unicef….He had been repeating the same unproven themes for many years–that there are more adoptive parents chasing fewer adoptable children etc etc–without any credible basis for this. I have been reading his remarks for years and it is always the same story. For the Irish government to accept this as even close to objective truth is simply amazing–and in my view extremely damaging to children and their families. I have been calling for a truly independent body to carry out international evaluations of adoption systems for many years–a body with a strong sense of the necessity of permanency–with a healthy skepticism towards adoption systems, but with a basic commitment to several principles–family reunification where possible, and identifying those children for whom adoption is truly required. To substitute this kind of boiler plate discussion for that sort of rigorous analysis may simply reflect inherent prejudices of the Irish government against adoption generally–or it may be based on lack of knowledge. But it is truly awful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s