Hope for couples seeking to adopt child from Russia
Irish officials are working to reopen adoption channels between Ireland and Russia after changes in international law halted adoptions from the country.
Russian children are bringing joy to many Irish couples as the biggest group of foreign-born babies being adopted here.
More than 1,500 Russian children have been adopted and, over the past two decades, four in every 10 children adopted in Ireland have been brought from Russia.
A Department of Foreign Affairs report said the majority of individual adoption dossiers authenticated by its officials in the past year concerned children adopted from Russia, Bulgaria, Ethiopia and Mexico.
But rule changes have meant that Ethiopia, and other popular countries such as Vietnam, are no longer open to Irish couples seeking to adopt.
But the Department of Children and the Adoption Authority are hoping to extend the number of countries open for adoption by Irish people next month.
Overall, the number of inter-country adoptions by Irish couples have almost halved in recent years.
The fall came after the ratification by Ireland of the Hague Convention in November 2010, which excluded several countries popular with Irish people adopting children from abroad.
The Adoption Authority, which took over from the Adoption Board as the regulatory body in 2010, has been criticised for the delay in registering children as it copes with the increasing red tape demanded by the Hague Convention.
A spokesperson for the Adoption Authority said there were a number of factors influencing the numbers of inter-country adoptions, including increasing delays by the HSE in assessing people's suitability.
"Child protection here is its priority so adoption is not hugely resourced. This influences the manner in which they can take on assessments," she said.