ADOPTION links between Ireland and Vietnam will officially reopen next week after a new deal was struck between the two countries.
The Herald can reveal that Irish couples will finally be able to adopt Vietnamese children by the end of the year follow discussions led by Childrens' Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
The minister confirmed to the Herald that an agreement will be signed with the Vietnamese Justice Minister, Ha Hung Cuong, in Dublin on Monday.
It means Vietnamese children will be adopted by couples here for the first time since the previous agreement ended in 2009.
"I'm delighted that the path has now been cleared for safe adoptions between Vietnam and Ireland.
"A lot of work had gone into making this happen in the past year. It is the first international adoption agreement that the Vietnam authorises have signed with any country since the Hague convention," Ms Fitzgerald revealed.
"We are planning a family day for tomorrow and the Vietnamese Justice Minister will be in Dublin to sign the agreement on Monday.
"I would expect the first adoptions to take place later this year so this is great news for parents hoping to enter the adoption process," she added.
The breakthrough in negotiations will come as a massive relief to more than 200 couples who were in the early stages of the adoption process with Vietnam when a bilateral adoption agreement ended in May 2009.
Some 19 couples in particular were at an advanced stage in the adoption process when agreement came to an end.
Many of these couples had been in limbo as to what to do as they were unaware of the time-frame that it would take for negotiations to open up between both sides.
However after intense discussions, an official agreement will now be signed -- paving the way for adoptions to be organised by Irish couples.
The first adoption is expected to take place by the end of 2012.