Couples flock to Florida in adoption rush
IRISH couples wanting to adopt are increasingly turning to Florida in the US, new data shows.
Some 17 babies were adopted from Florida last year, statistics released by Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald reveal.
In fact, more children were adopted from the US by Irish residents in 2011 than during the nine years between 2000 and 2008.
The International Adoption Association (IAA) said the proven track record of "transparent and ethical" processes in Florida has made the state a popular choice for couples.
A spokeswoman said: "There are many reasons for this but primarily because other families have effected legal and transparent adoptions from this state and the children are very young when placed for adoption."
It is easier to travel back and forth to Florida from Ireland than the west coast of the US, she pointed out.
There is also an agency in the state which works with Irish parents and in which the applicants have confidence.
IAA (Ireland), based in Dublin, supports couples seeking to adopt from another country.
The overall reduction in the number of foreign adoptions has led to calls on Ms Fitzgerald to facilitate the removal of red tape blocking the way for thousands of couples.
Fianna Fail's children's spokesman Charlie McConalogue said the Hague Convention on inter-country adoption has "totally changed" the regime. The Donegal North East TD told the Herald: "There has been a very significant drop in the number of adoptions (since its ratification)."
Under the changed procedures, Irish residents can only adopt from countries which have also signed up to the convention or with which Ireland has a bilateral agreement.
However, no bilateral arrangements have yet been put in place.
There were 39 babies adopted from Hague-ratified countries last year. In 2008, the total number was 397. Last year's figure does not include the number of adoptions from non-Hague ratified countries.
Mr McConalogue wants the process of entering into direct agreements expedited.