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Adoption Policy


Adoption Act, 2010

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.

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  These Acts were repealed by the Adoption Act, 2010.

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Adoption Authority of Ireland

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.

Visit Adoption Authority website

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Tusla (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 Tusla provides can be found on the Tusla website.

From November 1st 2010, all applications for an adoption assessment must be made through a local Tusla office. For contact details of your local  Adoption Service, visit the Tusla website.

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Domestic Adoptions

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.

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Intercountry Adoptions

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.

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Information and Tracing

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.



Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill

The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill was published on the 25th November 2016.

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. The Bill also provides that birth parents and other persons may obtain information about an adopted person, subject to the other party's consent. The Bill further provides that a person who may have been the subject of an 'informal care arrangement' or an 'incorrect registration' and a birth parent of that person is entitled to apply for information under Part 5 of the Bill.

Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 No. 100 of 2016

Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill Regulatory Impact Analysis

FAQ documents on the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016

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Adoption (Amendment) Bill 2016

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 this proposed legislation 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 Bill also proposes to amend 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 Bill was published on 5th May 2016 and is currently being progressed through the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The Adoption (Amendment) Bill 2016 has passed all stages in the Dáil and is scheduled for consideration in the Seanad early in the new year.

Adoption (Amendment) Bill No 23b as passed by Dáil Eireann

Adoption (Amendment) Bill 2016

Adoption (Amendment) Bill Regulatory Impact Analysis

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