Domestic adoption refers to the situation where a child who is resident in Ireland is adopted by a couple also resident in Ireland. The nature and effect of an Irish adoption order is that the child becomes the child of the adopters as if born to them in marriage with all the rights and duties of parents and children in relation to each other. Please note that Irish adoption legislation only allows for the adoption of a child. A child is defined as a person who has not yet reached eighteen years of age. It is not possible for a person eighteen years of age or older to be adopted in Ireland. There are four different types of domestic adoption – Stepfamily, Extended family/Relative adoption, Domestic Infant adoption, Long term foster care to adoption.

Stepfamily in the context of adoption generally refers to families formed when the birth mother of a child marries a man who is not the birth father of that child, and the child is living with this married couple, or in a small number of cases where the child is living with the birth father who wishes to adopt the child with his wife. Applications are made in these cases so that the birth parent’s spouse can establish legal rights in respect of the child within the family unit. This also ensures the child’s inheritance rights within the family. The making of an adoption order in these cases involves the birth parent giving up sole legal rights in respect of the child and, with his or her spouse, taking on joint legal rights, responsibilities and guardianship in respect of the child.

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Extended Family/Relative adoption specifically refers to a member of the child’s extended family who, alone or together with a spouse, wants to adopt the child; the child is living with the prospective adopter(s) and the child has been placed directly with this relative by the birth mother or indirectly through the State child care system.

Adoption Act 2010 Part 1 Section 3 (10) outlines the categories of extended family members eligible to adopt in these situations. Relatives are eligible through both birth parents’ blood lines.

”Relative”, in relation to a child, means a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt of the child, whether of the whole blood, of the half blood or by affinity and includes the spouse of any such person, relationship to the child being traced through the mother or the father”.

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Domestic Infant adoption is essentially the process whereby a child is placed with an alternative set of parents. All legal rights, responsibilities and duties are transferred to the new parents and the birth parents relinquish all their legal rights and duties in relation to the child. A child cannot be placed for adoption with a couple without the prior approval of the Adoption Authority. A child may only be placed by Tusla - The Child and Family Agency or an accredited body. Only couples with valid Declarations of Eligibility and Suitability may be considered for the placement of the child.

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Long Term Fostercare to Adoption - This type of adoption occurs where a child has been placed with a couple initially in a foster care situation because the birth mother/parents are unsure of what decision they wish to make about caring for the child themselves or allowing the child to be adopted. In other circumstances the child may have been placed with foster parents on foot of Tusla - The Child and Family Agency having obtained a Care Order for the child due to the circumstances around the birth parents/family. After a period of time it becomes clear through the Child Care Review/Plan that it will not be possible for the child to be returned to his/her birth parents/family and that the child’s best interests would be served by being adopted.

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Stepfamily

Where a child is being adopted by its mother and her husband (this is the case in the vast majority of stepparent applications) if the birth father is a legal guardian of the child his consent is required before the adoption can proceed. If he gives his consent to the adoption, the guardianship order must be discharged before the adoption can proceed. If he does not consent to the adoption, it cannot proceed but it is open to the birth mother to apply to the district court to have the guardianship order discharged.

Where the birth father of the child is not a legal guardian he is entitled to be notified and consulted about the application for adoption. This may result in a number of outcomes including:

(i)The birth father is notified and has no objection.

(ii) The birth father is notified and does object – he may or may not decide to make an application to the district court for a guardianship order.

(iii) The birth father is identified but cannot be located.

(iv)The birth father cannot be identified and therefore cannot be notified – in this circumstance the Adoption Authority must obtain an order from the High Court to allow an adoption order to be made without consultation of the birth father.

(v) Circumstances are such that it is deemed inappropriate to notify the birth father if he is known - in this circumstance the Adoption Authority must obtain an order from the High Court to allow an adoption order to be made without consultation of the birth father.

(vi) The birth father is deceased. In this case the birth father cannot be notified or consulted. The birth father’s death certificate and evidence linking him to the child is required before the application can proceed.

Where an application has been made to court, either by the parties to the adoption or by the Adoption Authority, the adoption application is suspended until the court proceedings are finalised.

When the consent and or notification of the birth father issue have been dealt with appropriately the application can proceed.

Residency of adopters
Prospective adoptive parents must be habitually resident in the State.

Residency of the child
The child must be resident in the State.

Religion
Where the prospective adoptive parent(s), the child and the parent(s) are not all of the same religion, the parent(s) must know the religion (if any) of each of the adopting parents when giving consent to the child's adoption.

Suitability
The Adoption Authority cannot make an adoption order unless it is satisfied that each of the adopting parents is a suitable person to have parental rights and duties in respect of the child. The adopting parents must hold a valid Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability at the time the adoption order is to be made.

Birth father and his wife adopting
Where a child is being adopted by his birth father and birth father’s wife, the consent of the birth mother is required in order to proceed as she is a legal guardian of the child.

If the birth mother is not consenting to the adoption the application cannot proceed.

Where the birth mother is deceased her death certificate will be required in order for the application to proceed.

Statistics on Stepfamily Adoption

Extended Family/Relative Adoption

Where a child is resident with and in the care of relative(s)* and the relative(s) apply to adopt the child, the consent of the birth mother must be obtained. Where the birth father is a legal guardian his consent is also required.

Where the birth father of the child is not a legal guardian he is entitled to be notified and consulted about the application for adoption. This may result in a number of outcomes:

(i)The birth father is notified and has no objection.

(ii) The birth father is notified and does object – he may or may not decide to make an application to the district court for a guardianship order.

(iii) The birth father is identified but cannot be located.

(iv)The birth father cannot be identified and therefore cannot be notified – in this circumstance the Adoption Authority must obtain an order from the High Court to allow an adoption order to be made without consultation of the birth father.

(v) Circumstances are such that it is deemed inappropriate to notify the birth father if he is known - in this circumstance the Adoption Authority must obtain an order from the High Court to allow an adoption order to be made without consultation of the birth father.

(vi) The birth father is deceased. In this case the birth father cannot be notified or consulted. The birth father’s death certificate and evidence linking him to the child is required before the application can proceed.

Where the birth mother of the child does not consent the application cannot proceed.

It is open to the relatives applying to adopt the child to make an application to the High Court to dispense with the consent of the birth mother and or birth father as necessary.

Where an application has been made to court, either by the parties to the adoption or by the Adoption Authority, the adoption application is suspended until the court proceedings are finalised.

*Definition "relative", in relation to a child, means a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, or aunt of the child, whether of the whole blood, of the halfblood or by affinity and includes the spouse of any such person, relationship to the child being traced through the mother or the father;

Minimum Ages
Prospective adopters must be at least 21 years of age.

Upper Ages
The law does not lay down upper age limits for prospective adoptive parents however age is a significant factor when assessing suitability to adopt.

Residency of adopters
Prospective adoptive parents must be habitually resident in the State.

Residency of the child
The child must be resident in the State.

Religion
Where the prospective adoptive parent(s), the child and the parent(s) are not all of the same religion, the parent(s) must know the religion (if any) of each of the adopting parents when giving consent to the child's adoption.

Suitability
The Adoption Authority cannot make an adoption order unless it is satisfied that each of the adopting parents is a suitable person to have parental rights and duties in respect of the child. The adopting parents must hold a valid Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability at the time the adoption order is to be made.

Statistics on Extended Family/Relative Adoption

Domestic Infant Adoption

Where a child is placed for adoption by its birth mother (usually) and is to be adopted into a family other than the one it was born to.

Who arranges the placement of a child for adoption?
Only registered Accredited Bodies and the Tusla - The Child and Family Agency are legally entitled to place children for adoption in Ireland.  The approval of the Adoption Authority is required before the child can be placed with its prospective adopter(s).  The prospective adopter(s) must hold a valid Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability before a child can be placed with them for adoption.

Minimum Ages
Prospective adopters must both be at least 21 years of age.

Upper Ages
The law does not lay down upper age limits for prospective adoptive parents however age is a significant factor when assessing suitability to adopt.

Residency of adopters
Prospective adoptive parents must be habitually resident in the State.

Residency of the child
The child must be resident in the State.

Religion
Where the prospective adoptive parent(s), the child and the parent(s) are not all of the same religion, the parent(s) must know the religion (if any) of each of the adopting parents when giving consent to the child's adoption.

Suitability
The Adoption Authority cannot make an adoption order unless it is satisfied that each of the adopting parents is a suitable person to have parental rights and duties in respect of the child. The adopting parents must hold a valid Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability at the time the adoption order is to be made.

Statistics
The number of people wishing to adopt an infant in Ireland is far higher than the number of infants available for adoption in Ireland. Not every person who applies to an adoption agency will be successful. A table outlining the number of infant adoptions in Ireland in recent years is available here.

Information about the steps in a Domestic Infant Adoption
Since the vast majority of adoptive parents in Ireland are married couples, the following notice is written in the plural for ease of reading. Under certain circumstances, sole applicants may also adopt.

Persons wishing to have a child placed with them for adoption should apply to one of the registered Accredited Bodies or their local office of the Tusla - The Child and Family Agency

Applicants will undergo a detailed assessment process for the purpose of obtaining a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability.

The purpose of this assessment is to establish the suitability of the prospective adoptive parents to adopt a child. It includes a number of joint and individual interviews and visits to the applicants’ home. The social worker will discuss such areas as their relationship, their motives for adopting, their expectations of the child and their ability to help the child to knowledge and understanding of his/her natural background.

When an infant is placed for adoption, the parent(s) are given the opportunity to outline their preferences of the type of family they would like the infant to be placed with.  For example the parent(s) may wish the infant to be brought up in a rural area, or a county other than where they live themselves; they may express a preference for a couple who have a child already and so their child will have a sibling.

The registered Accredited Body or Tusla - The Child and Family Agency will then examine the profiles of everyone holding a valid Declaration of EligTusla - The Child and Family Agencyibility and Suitability.  At least three profiles will be provided to the parent(s) of the infant without any identifying information.  The parent(s) with the social worker will then select one of the profiles.  The social worker will contact the relevant prospective adoptive parents to see if they are willing to proceed with the placement of the child into their care.

Once a placement has been successful the next step for the prospective adoptive parents is to apply to the Adoption Authority for an adoption order.  The application is generally made through the registered Accredited Body or Tusla - The Child and Family Agency who has been working with them.  They will advise what documents are required for the adoption application.

The Adoption Authority does not usually finalise an adoption until the prospective adoptive parents have had the child in their care for a minimum of six months. The registered Accredited Body or Tusla - The Child and Family Agency are required to submit at least 2 post placement reports to the Authority before the Authority can consider the application for the Adoption Order. The Authority may require the applicants to have the child in their care for a longer period in certain circumstances.

Important information about Consent

Consent to Placement
Where the child's adoption is being arranged by a registered Accredited Body or Tusla - The Child and Family Agency, the mother, father (where he is a guardian) or other legal guardian must give an initial consent or agreement to the placing of the child for adoption by that body. This may be given at any time after the birth of the child.

Consent to Adoption Order
The mother, father (where he is a guardian) or other legal guardian must give consent the making of the adoption order. Consent to the making of an adoption order may not be given until the child is at least six weeks old. It may not be given earlier than three months before the date of the application for the adoption order. Consent to the making of an adoption order must be given in a particular format and following a particular procedure which is set down in legislation.

Consent to the making of an adoption order may be withdrawn at any time before the making of the adoption order.

Reclaim of child
If a mother changes her mind about adoption before the making of the adoption order and seeks to reclaim her child but the adopting parents refuse to give up the child, then it is open to her to institute legal proceedings to have custody of the child restored to her.

Dispensing with consent
In certain circumstances where the Authority is satisfied that the person whose consent is required is incapable by reason of mental infirmity of giving consent or cannot be found an application may be made to the High Court to dispense with the consent to allow the adoption order to be made. The High Court considers the best interests of the child before making an order.

No consent
Where a mother who has initially agreed to the placing of her child for adoption fails, neglects or refuses to give her consent to the making of an adoption order, or withdraws a consent already given, it is open to the adopting parents, if they have applied for an adoption order for the child, to apply to the High Court for an order allowing the adoption to proceed. The High Court considers the best interests of the child before making an order.

Statistics on Domestic Infant Adoption

Long Term Fostercare to Adoption

Where a child is in a long term fostering situation it may become clear after a period through the Child Care Review/Plan that it will not be possible for the child to be returned to his/her birth parents/family and that the child’s best interests would be served by being adopted by their foster parent(s).

The birth mother’s consent to the adoption is required.  In some cases the birth mother may be objecting to the proposed adoption or may not be contactable to give her consent. Where the birth father is a legal guardian his consent is also required.

Where the birth father of the child is not a legal guardian he is entitled to be notified and consulted about the application for adoption. This may result in a number of outcomes including:

(i)The birth father is notified and has no objection.

(ii) The birth father is notified and does object – he may or may not decide to make an application to the district court for a guardianship order.

(iii) The birth father is identified but cannot be located.

(iv)The birth father cannot be identified and therefore cannot be notified – in this circumstance the Adoption Authority must obtain an order from the High Court to allow an adoption order to be made without consultation of the birth father.

(v) Circumstances are such that it is deemed inappropriate to notify the birth father if he is known - in this circumstance the Adoption Authority must obtain an order from the High Court to allow an adoption order to be made without consultation of the birth father.

(vi) The birth father is deceased. In this case the birth father cannot be notified or consulted. The birth father’s death certificate and evidence linking him to the child is required before the application can proceed.

Where the necessary consents to the adoption have not been obtained the application cannot proceed.

It is open to the applicants applying to adopt the child to make an application to the High Court to dispense with the consent of the birth mother and or birth father as necessary.

Where an application has been made to court, either by the parties to the adoption or by the Adoption Authority, the adoption application is suspended until the court proceedings are finalised.

Minimum Ages
Prospective adopters must be at least 21 years of age.

Upper Ages
The law does not lay down upper age limits for prospective adoptive parents however age is a significant factor when assessing suitability to adopt.

Residency of adopters
Prospective adoptive parents must be habitually resident in the State.

Residency of the child
The child must be resident in the State.

Religion
Where the prospective adoptive parent(s), the child and the parent(s) are not all of the same religion, the parent(s) must know the religion (if any) of each of the adopting parents when giving consent to the child's adoption.

Suitability
The Adoption Authority cannot make an adoption order unless it is satisfied that each of the adopting parents is a suitable person to have parental rights and duties in respect of the child. The adopting parents must hold a valid Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability at the time the adoption order is to be made.

Statistics on Fostercare to Adoption

Published: Tuesday, 31 May 2016 11:58
Last Updated: Friday, 23 September 2016 08:07