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Adoption Policy Unit


Who we are

The role of the Adoption Policy Unit includes the development of policies and legislation in order to achieve better outcomes for children, young people, and their families, in relation to adoption.

 The work of Adoption Policy Unit is underpinned by the Adoption Act, 2010, which 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.


Our agencies

Adoption Authority of Ireland

The Adoption Authority of Ireland, established in November 2010 under the Adoption Act 2010 and under the aegis of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, is an independent quasi-judicial statutory body appointed by Government, is responsible for regulating domestic adoption in Ireland including the making of  adoption orders . The Authority is also, in line with the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption the central authority in Ireland for inter country adoption.

Tusla (The Child and Family Agency)

Tusla (Child and Family Agency) has legislative responsibility for assessing the eligibility and suitability of prospective adoptive parents and provides information and tracing services to people who may wish to trace their birth family. Detailed information on the services Tusla provides can be found on the Tusla website.



Domestic Adoptions

The domestic adoption of a child under 18 years of age resident in Ireland involves the transfer, on a permanent basis, of parental rights and duties for children from the birth parent(s) to the adoptive parent(s). The child has the same legal rights as if they were born in the adoptive family.

Intercountry Adoptions

The Adoption Act 2010 provides that prospective adoptive parent(s)  are entitled to an assessment as to  their eligibility and suitability to adopt by Tusla.  If the applicants are found to be eligible and suitable, then a Declaration to that effect is issued to the prospective adoptive parent(s) allowing them to commence adopting from overseas. Currently adoptions are ongoing to Ireland from a variety of countries.   All adoptions must take place in line with the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption as provided for in the Adoption Act 2010.

Queries in relation to domestic and inter-country adoption should adoption be made to Tusla and the Adoption Authority of Ireland



Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill

The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill was published on the 25th November 2016. The Bill passed second stage in the Seanad on 17th May 2017.

The main purpose of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 is to provide for a scheme whereby adoption information, including information required to obtain a birth certificate, may be provided to an adopted person subject to certain conditions.

Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 No. 100 of 2016
Explanatory Note
Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill Regulatory Impact Analysis

The Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017

This legislation is arising from the Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Act 2012 which was signed into law on 28 April 2015. The main purpose of The Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017 is to amend the Adoption Act 2010 to provide for:

•    the voluntary placement for adoption and adoption of a child of married parents, and
•    the dispensing with parental consent to adoption in circumstances where the High Court is satisfied that the parents of a child have failed in their duty towards that child for a continuous period of 36 months or more and where it is considered likely that such failure will continue, and where adoption is considered to be in the best interest of the child.

This Act also amends the Adoption Act 2010 to reflect the adoption provisions provided for in the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 as well as provide for sole step-parent adoption. 

The Act was signed into law on the 19th July 2017 and was commenced on the 19th October 2017. 

Adoption (Amendment) Bill No 23b as passed by Dáil Eireann
Adoption (Amendment) Bill 2016
Adoption (Amendment) Bill Regulatory Impact Analysis
Adoption Amendment Act 2017


Review and Consultation in respect of the Potential Introduction of Open or Semi-Open Adoption in Ireland

The Department committed under the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017 to undertaking a review and consultation in respect of the potential introduction of open or semi-open adoption in Ireland. This work was initiated on 18th May 2018 and will consider a range of policy and legal issues as well as stakeholder views.

On Monday May 13th 2019. the Department hosted an Open Policy Debate on the potential introduction of open or semi-open adoption in Ireland in respect of adopted children under 18.  Key stakeholders were invited, including social work practitioners, representatives from Government Departments, Tusla - the Child and Family Agency, the Adoption Authority of Ireland, the community and voluntary sector, representative groups including organisations representing children’s rights and perspectives, and academia. The purpose of the day was to identify significant themes and perspectives in relation to this issue.  The event was chaired by Dr. Valerie O'Brien, from UCD's School of Social Work, Social Policy and Social Justice and the keynote speaker was Professor Elsbeth Neil, Professor of Social Work at the University of East Anglia, a leading expert in post-adoption contact and director of the major longitudinal Contact After Adoption study. Professor Neil's presentation is available here. 

An overview of the themes and perspectives emerging from the Open Policy Debate is available here.

The Department has launched a public consultation in connection with this review. Until Friday June 14th 2019, interested parties and members of the public will be able to fill out this questionnaire. As well as seeking information and opinions in relation to a number of specific areas, the questionnaire provides space for individuals and organisations to submit their general views on open and semi-open adoption.



Illegal Registrations

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs announced in May 2018 that clear evidence of illegal registration had been uncovered in records from St. Patrick's Guild former adoption agency. Identification was possible because of a marker placed on some files specifying "adopted from birth".  While the practice of incorrect registrations has been extremely difficult to prove in most instances owing to the deliberate failure of those involved to record any information about it, the label in SPG records has made it possible to identify possible cases and to pursue them further.

Press Release regarding the St. Patrick's Guild records  


Review of Adoption Records

Following the discovery of clear evidence of illegal registration in the St. Patrick's Guild records, the Minister directed that an analysis of adoption records be carried out to establish whether there is sufficient reliable evidence of the practice of illegal registration that can be extracted from the records of adoption agencies.

There are an estimated 150,000 adoption records in existence and, of these, approximately 100,000 are currently in the custody of the State, i.e. in the possession of either Tusla or the Adoption Authority of Ireland. The review is focused on those records in the custody of the State and a targeted sampling exercise in being carried out in the first instance owing to the volume of records involved. This targeted review will help to establish the extent of usable information that can be found in these historical records. The review will provide information to assist the Minister in identifying more fully the scale of illegal birth registrations and in identifying any necessary next steps.

The Terms of Reference of the review and the Chair's three interim reports are below. 

Terms of Reference

Incorrect Birth Registrations - First Interim Report - September 2018

Incorrect Birth Registrations - Second Interim Report - November 2018

Incorrect Birth Registrations - Third Interim Report - April 2019