You have heard that everything will change with Ireland finally ratifying the Hague Agreement. How so?
Based on the idea that intercountry adoption can be achieved in two ways: through the Door or through the Window, let’s try to explain what happens.
The situation before
Before, and up to the 1st November, there were very little doors, and they were barely ajar.
The Adoption board had bilateral agreements with 4 countries (Vietnam, China, Philippines, Thailand), and the Doors could just be shut closed by a simple draft, or by a storm. For instance Vietnam “closed” because of a financial scandal.
For other countries (Romania, Ethiopia, Russia, South-Africa), applicants had to go through the Window. They would go there, arrange an adoption and come back.
Then they would need to prove that they had not burgled the house through the Window: they had to prove to the Irish courts that the adoption was compliant with the Irish legislation.
The situation now
See also: Country information – what is what?.
Doors (some wide open, some padlocked)
Hague will mean that 83 countries make their Doors available without the need for bilateral agreements. The Doors are open by default, unless the countries decide to put on a lock.
For instance, South-Africa has such a lock: it will only deal with countries that have worked out an agreement between approved mediation agencies on both sides. Not all countries have that demand.
That is why the feeling is that some Windows will be closed, and the Doors locked shut, for Hague countries that require an agreement but have no contact with the Irish “Central Authority” (the Adoption Authority).
So the good news is that of all the 83 doors, there are three for which we can expect the lock will be opened via the Adoption Authority’s working agreements with their respective “Central Authorities”: South-Africa, Bulgaria, Thailand.
For other Hague countries, individual applicants need to find out if they can deal directly with local mediation agencies (e.g., Austria), or if they Door ill remain locked. Such countries will include The Philippines, China, Uruguay, the UK, the USA, Romania, et al.
What is means for LGBT and other sole applicants
The other good news is that South-Africa is the only reliable country for LGBT applicants (and other sole applicants). If the Adoption Authority had not open discussions, they would have rejected individual applicants.
Thailand requires married couples.
Bulgaria is a second option for sole applicants who are single (especially women), but may prove difficult for LGBT sole adopters who are not acually single but are assessed as a couple.
Windows (French Windows and Windows)
And on top of the open Doors, and of the unlocked doors, applicants can still avail of the Windows: the usual windows where they will need to prove the compliance of the country’s law with the Irish law, and the French Windows of bilateral agreements when and if they are concluded. That would include the likes of Ethiopia, Russia, Vietnam.
What should we do?
You can start investigating countries that will be open to LGBT adopters, and check if they are Hague countries: http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.status&cid=69 (the Authority’s contacts are in the column “Auth”).
If they are, you can try and convince the IAA that it is worth adding this country, because the Adoption Board is listening to the IAA when it comes to countries which are worth spending time “unlocking”.
If there is no adopter interested in a country, there is no point spending public time and money unlocking Doors that will never be used.
And if there is no unlocking needed, you will be allowed to go and proceed directly, usually via a local mediation agency.
You can of course also check approved mediation agencies, who might beable to stream line the process for you.
At present only one such agency is pre-approved: Arc Adoption, but some more people are in the blocking start, for instance country-specific groups.
And then you can wait… some more. You are used to it at this stage.