On several occasions last year I wrote about HSE failures to carry out its job and provide requisite follow up support for adoption process in Ireland. This week, the chickens came home to roost for our healthcare bureaucrats. Except, as is usual in such cases, it is not the bureaucrats who are bearing the cost of such gross failure to do their job, but ordinary families and children.
A disclaimer is due - this is not an academic analysis post. It is an angry post.
Since at least May 2009, HSE was on the notice that it is failing to comply with the documentation support required by Russian authorities in the cases of cross-border adoptions of Russian children. The Ministers for Children and Health were fully aware of the situation.
The problem is a simple one. After a Russian child is adopted into Ireland (or any country for that matter), the agency supporting the adoption (in the case of Ireland - HSE monopoly behemoth, plus a small organization relating to the Church of Ireland - PACT) must supply a report on how the kids are adapting to their new family and environs. It is a brief standardized assessment document and HSE is required to collect and transmit it to the Russian authorities. HSE has staff on its usual lavish pay who are responsible for doing the work. It has managers, on an even more lavish pay, who are responsible for making sure the process is adhered to. There is no nuclear science involved. Just a routine follow up.
Unlike PACT (which appears to be fully compliant), HSE has simply decided not to do its job. Yes, this is exactly what they did. Since May 2009 the HSE has failed to provide the Russian authorities and the Irish adoptive parents with any information as to when and how the HSE will comply with the international obligation. Adopting couples - years into the process and even those already approved by the Russian authorities - were stonewalled by the HSE. In other words - the usual practices of 'do nothing, say nothing' that marks HSE work in virtually all areas of its responsibilities has been applied.
Between 50 and 70 reports were not submitted to the Russian authorities over a couple of years, prompting last May a blacklisting of Ireland by Russian adoption agencies. The blacklisting was not enforced by Moscow in order to give HSE enough time to comply. 9 months later, with no progress from HSE, and actually nearly total stonewalling by HSE not only of the Irish families, but also of the Russian authorities, Moscow's patience has run out. Thus, last week, HSE regional bodies responsible for providing adoption support were blacklisted by Russia again, preventing hundreds of families from proceeding with adopting children.
At the same time, tiny PACT seems to have been able to do their job and avoid blacklisting. Despite not having all the vast resources of HSE nor the Department of Health.
I have no personal interest in the adoption process. But, like any normal person in the country, I have a general human interest in seeing families being able to adopt kids who are in the need of having a proper family. I do have a number of friends who either have adopted kids from different parts of the world or who are currently in the process of adopting kids (so I can see the great potential these fantastic people bring to the lives of formerly orphaned children). And as a fellow human being, I cannot stomach an unaccountable bureaucracy, like HSE, standing between these families, these kids and their dreams.
More than anything else in these times of the crises, the callousness, the laziness and the arrogance of some of our official bodies responsible for adoption highlight the need for a deep reform in this country's public sector. Those in HSE, who failed to do their jobs must be fired, barred for life from ever taking another public sector job and left pension-less, for their victims are the most vulnerable people in this world - innocent children and fantastic families that go though years of hard work to adopt them.
Update: per readers tip-offs (hat tip to B & A), The Minister for Children, Barry Andews TD has presided over the de facto closing of the intercountry adoption in this country. On his watch, China, Vietnam, and Russia all have either seen their adoption treaties with Ireland expire or not complied with. Mr Andrews was fully aware of the problems in the cases of Russia and Vietnam treaties since Spring 2009 and despite having assured the adoptive parents that the issues will be resolved has, so far, failed to do much about it.
The Adoption Board itself has apparent difficulties communicating with the adoptive parents and the broader public. The latest Annual Report the organization has bothered to issue dates back to 2008. This document represents the latest public communication from the Board available on its site. Done truly in HSE's best traditions of public communications, then.