More on ISS and objectivity

I was looking at a post on a site called firstmotherforum, and saw a description of an exchange between the blog writer and Nigel Cantwell, one of the authors of the ISS report on Vietnam–the same report that the Irish government is relying on to evaluate whether international adoption between Ireland and Vietnam should continue or not. The blogger writes:

“Nigel Cantwell, a Geneva-based consultant on child protection policy, has seen the dangerous influence of money on adoptions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where he has helped reform corrupt adoption systems. In these regions, healthy children age 3 and younger can easily be adopted in their own countries, he says. I asked him how many healthy babies in those regions would be available for international adoption if money never exchanged hands. “I would hazard a guess at zero,” he replied.”

If one holds such an extreme view, is it appropriate for a national government to hand over to that person responsibility for evaluating an adoption system–where the fate of children and families may depend on the analysis? Consider the implications for the way this ISS report has made Irish adoptive families–parent and children– feel. It is crucial that broadly representative views, pro and con, be sought and presented….

As for myself, I do in fact have a nuanced view–I am not blindly pro- adoption in all circumstances. But I am pro -permanency and seek the truth. The Irish government should have rolled up its sleeves and sent over a disinterested team–rather than waiting for ISS and unicef–unicef notoriously not objective in this matter–to dominate the discussion in Ireland. ISS is free to say whatever it wishes, of course. But national governments have a separate responsibility to seek the answers as widely as possible.

Again, I urge the Irish government to compare this recent ISS report on Vietnam with the one done by ISS and Cantwell about Ukraine some time back–then do some digging into the situation for social orphans in Ukraine–What is wrong with this picture?

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2 thoughts on “More on ISS and objectivity

  1. Hi Sara
    I think ‘disinterested team’ wasn’t what you meant in your blog.

    Unfortunately the ‘story’ about the renewal of the bilateral adoption agreement between Vietnam and Ireland goes on for quite some time now.
    It was over a year ago that the minister has decided not to renew the agreement – it would have rolled over into a new 5-year agreement.

    Initial reports about a newly negotiated agreement where positive.

    But, with the issue of the draft ISS report (preceded by another UNICEF report with the Vietnam MOLISA dept) the negotiations with Vietnam were put on hold and a decision has been announced once the ISS report was published.

    No decision about the Vietnam ‘situation’ has been made yet, but the ‘publication’ of the ISS report was accompanied by negative reports in the main Irish newspapers and a radio interview with (the coveniently available) Mr Cantwell. Interestingly the report hasn’t been ‘published’ in Vietnam.

    The new Adoption Bill is currently discussed in the Dail and is at an advanced stage. Once it’s law Ireland will become a Hague-country.

    The minister has already ruled out a Grandfather clause, although the Bill is still being discussed.
    He is announcing possible transition rules – without being specific about it.

    The new Adoption Bill will also try and exclude adoptions from any non-Hague countries (only exception – a bilateral agreement) [do you get the irony?].

    There is an assumption that the minister will wait until the Adoption Bill is finalised and then say that Vietnam is in the process of getting a Hague-country themselves and it won’t be worth the effort to get a new bilateral negotiated.

    Other countries – e.g. Ethiopia and Russia – will also be closed for adoptions into Ireland as they’re also non-Hague countries and any bilateral agreements are at an early stage.

    P.S. The minister in question is the ‘Minister for Children’

    • Thanks for that information. I had not been aware until very recently of the events surrounding the Ireland-Vietnam relationship. When living in Ireland, it was my sense that there was a good deal of official disapproval of ICA in any case–The part I cannot understand is why the Irish media and govern ment would put so much faith in a report written by people with such a johnny-one-note track record on ICA…. It is terribly unfair–and just plain wrong.

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