The agreement marks the first international administrative agreement on intercountry adoption by the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam since they ratified the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption.

“I know over the last number of months that the new standard has caused a certain level of uncertainty and anxiety for prospective adoptive parents,” said Dr Geoffrey Shannon, chairman of the AAI and signatory on its behalf.

“But that was necessary in terms of building the infrastructure to ensure that we not just facilitate intercountry adoption but that we regulate it in the manner that best protects and promotes the best interests of children. Adoption must be in the best interest of children. Consents must be properly obtained and not produced by payment.”

The agreement was signed by Dr Nguyen Van Binh, for the Vietnamese Central Authority, and by Dr Shannon in the presence of Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald and Vietnamese justice minister Ha Hung Cuong.

“There are about 700 Vietnamese children who have been adopted to live and be cared for by Irish families,” said Mr Cuong, who met many Vietnamese children already living in Ireland and their families at a family day hosted by Ms Fitzgerald.

“We are very happy to see that our adopted Vietnamese children are well educated and cared for by Irish family members, and they are very energetic and smart.”

Officials from both countries expressed hope that the agreement would act as a model for ones to come between other Hague-contracting States in regard to intercountry adoption.

“Our goal is the same whether it is in Vietnam or in Ireland,” Ms Fitzgerald said. "Our goal is about stable, loving homes for children. It’s about putting children at the centre.”

By Lauren Hise - Irish Times - September 24, 2012