Assembly Welcome for Bid to Toughen Adoption Laws

Article excerpt

TOUGHER laws to prevent the secret trade of overseas children for adoption were welcomed in the Assembly yesterday.

The Adoption (Intercountry Aspects) Bill is aimed at wiping out the profits to be made in Britain by abducting children from poorer countries and selling them to childless couples.

Adoptions of overseas children in Northern Ireland have risen steeply in recent years from just two in 1996 to 28 so far this year.

Health Minister Bairbre de Brun, introducing the second stage of the Bill, said its primary purpose was to protect the welfare of the children and ensure that adoption was in their best interests.

In future, the Department of Health in Northern Ireland will take the central role in dealing with adoption, thus preventing private agencies making money out from these children.

The Bill, which brings Northern Ireland in line with the 1993 Hague Convention on the protection of children, will set up a central authority based within the Department of Health to administer the adoption process.

Ms de Brun said the Bill would make an offence the ``covert movement'' of children into Great Britain and Northern Ireland for adoption purposes. …