- Adoption Act, 2010
- Adoption Authority of Ireland
- Child and Family Agency
- Domestic Adoptions
- Intercountry Adoptions
- Information and Tracing
The Adoption Act, 2010, was commenced on 1 November 2010. The commencement of the Act coincided with Ireland's ratification of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption.
The Hague Convention is a co-operative agreement drawn up to allow countries to mutually support one another in protecting the best interests of children in the intercountry adoption process. It is a minimum set of standards in intercountry adoption in areas such as subsidiarity, consent and financial considerations. It is designed in such a way as to allow for mirrored mechanisms and structures to mutually assure countries of the safety and standard of intercountry adoptions in those countries.
Intercountry adoptions can be effected with other countries which have ratified the Hague Convention or with which Ireland has a bilateral agreement.
The Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) performs the function of a Central Authority under the Adoption Act, 2010, in accordance with the Convention. In choosing to deal primarily with Hague countries, the AAI has the mechanism to work collaboratively with equivalent structures in that country. Each Central Authority has the responsibility to oversee standards in respect of those parts of the process taking place within their respective jurisdictions. This mutual arrangement is designed to give the AAI, the Government and, most importantly, those involved in the adoption process assurance as to the standards being set and the oversight of the system.
Prior to the commencement of this Act, adoption in Ireland was governed by the Adoption Acts 1952, 1964, 1974, 1976, 1988, 1991 and 1998. These Acts were repealed by the Adoption Act, 2010.
The Adoption Authority of Ireland was established on the 1st November 2010. The Adoption Board was replaced by the Adoption Authority of Ireland on this date.
The Adoption Authority of Ireland, which is an independent quasi judicial statutory body appointed by Government, is responsible for regulating adoption in Ireland. The mission of the Authority is to “work to achieve excellence in adoption and adoption related services, with the best interests of children as our primary consideration.” The Adoption Authority provides a wide range of adoption services in relation to the issuing of Declarations of Eligibility and Suitability to Adopt, registering adoptions, and adoption information and tracing services.
The Adoption Act, 2010 allows for the Adoption Authority to delegate certain functions in relation to making arrangements for adoptions to the Child and Family Agency or an accredited body. The Adoption Authority has responsibility for the accreditation of agencies who provide these services. The Adoption Act 2010 (Accreditation Bodies) Regulations 2010 (SI 524 of 2010) outline the requirements for accreditation.
The Child and Family Agency plays an important role in assessing possible adoptive parents and provides information and tracing services to people who were adopted or fostered and may wish to trace their birth family. Detailed information on the services the Agency provides can be found on the Child and Family Agency website.
From November 1st 2010, all applications for an adoption assessment must be made through a local Child and Family Agency office. For contact details of your local Adoption Service, visit the Child and Family Agency website.
Domestic adoption is where a child is adopted within Ireland, through either a family adoption or a non-family adoption. A domestic adoption involves the transfer, on a permanent basis, of parental rights and duties for children from the birth parent(s) to the adoptive parent(s). It is a permanent legal relationship between the adoptive parent(s) and the child. The child has the same legal rights as if they were born in the adoptive family.
Queries in relation to domestic adoption can be made to the Child and Family Agency or a registered adoption agency.
The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption is a multilateral treaty concluded on May 29, 1993 in The Hague, Netherlands. There are currently 93 contracting states to this Convention. Ireland ratified the Convention on the 1st of November 2010.
Ireland supports the principles of the Convention, which strengthen protections for children, birth parents, and prospective adoptive parents in the adoption process. The Convention provides a framework for Convention countries to work together to ensure that adoptions take place in the best interests of children and to prevent the abduction, sale, or trafficking of children in connection with intercountry adoption. The Convention requires authorities to prioritise the improvement of domestic systems for the care and adoption of children. This is in line with Article 21 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Ireland has also ratified.
Under current Irish legislation, applicants who seek an assessment as to their eligibility and suitability to adopt are entitled to that assessment from the Child and Family Agency. The assessment leads to an application to the Adoption Authority for a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability to Adopt. If the applicants are found to be eligible and suitable, then a Declaration is issued. A declaration allows an applicant to apply to adopt, it is not a guarantee that an adoption will take place. It is now a reality that the numbers of children available for intercountry adoption have fallen worldwide. The Adoption Authority can only authorise placement of children with applicants where the children are available for adoption and have been referred by the sending country in question.
The Adoption Act, 2010 requires that adoptions from countries which have not ratified the Hague Convention can only take place where there is a bi-lateral agreement in place. At present there are no bilateral agreements in place.
The Adoption Authority website contains details of the process which must be followed and country specific information and updates.
The Hague Convention website has details of the Convention and a list of the Central Authorities, the Accredited Bodies and the Competent Authorities.
Mother and Baby Homes Investigation
Following a Government decision in June 2014, a Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and related matters is being established by the Department. Information in relation to the Commission can be found on the Department website under the section Mother and Baby Homes Investigation.
National Adoption Contact Preference Register
The National Adoption Contact Preference Register has been set up to facilitate contact between adopted people and their natural families
Participation is voluntary and contact through the register will only be initiated where both parties register. The Register allows you to choose what level of contact you wish to have. It includes an option to have no contact with the other party to the adoption if this is your wish.
The Register is maintained by the Adoption Authority of Ireland.
Work is continuing in relation to the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill to provide for a structured and regulated way of providing access to information and contact for those affected by adoption. The Minister intends to provide access to records for birth parents and adopted persons in so far as is possible in line with legal advice in relation the balancing of rights of those involved.
It is intended to proceed to finalise legislative proposals so that a general scheme and Heads of Bill on adoption information and tracing can be brought to the Government as soon as possible, with a view to early publication. Subsequent consideration by the Oireachtas Health and Children Committee will allow the views of different interested parties to be fully considered.
It is intended that the Bill will provide for;
• Placing the National Adoption Contact Preference Register on a statutory basis
• Arranging for the management of adoption records
• Setting out the information to be provided and circumstances in which it can be provided both for retrospective and prospective adoptions
• Providing of information and tracing supports