The Adoption Act 2010 requires that prospective adoptive parent(s) hold a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability before they can adopt a child. A Declaration of Eligibility is in effect a licence to proceed to adoption. The Adoption Authority of Ireland is the only body authorised to grant Declarations of Eligibility and Suitability.
To obtain a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability the eligibility of the prospective adoptive parent(s) must be verified and their suitability to adopt must be assessed. The criteria for eligibility and suitability are set out in the Adoption Act 2010. The assessment of the prospective adoptive parent(s) are carried out by Tusla – Child & Family Agency and specific accredited bodies.
The steps to apply for a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability and the process followed by the Adoption Authority in considering the application are outlined in this explanatory leaflet.
Applicant(s) complete an application form, which includes a statutory declaration. They confirm their identity, marital status, the country from which they intend to adopt (for domestic adoptions this will be Ireland) and their residency. A social worker is assigned to the applicant(s) and carries out their assessment for adoption. When the assessment is complete an Assessment Report is written by the Assessing Social Worker. A recommendation is made by the Assessing Social Worker as to whether or not a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability should be granted to the applicant(s). The recommendation states the specifics of the child or children that the applicant(s) are deemed suitable to adopt, for example the age range or health issues. The report is reviewed and signed by the Assessing Social Worker and by his or her Principal Social Worker or Team Leader.
The Assessment Report with the recommendation is sent on to the Local Adoption Committee (LAC) who considers the contents of the report and also makes a recommendation. The application for the Declaration of Eligibility which includes the application form, statutory declaration, Assessment Report and LAC recommendations are submitted to the Adoption Authority for adjudication.
When satisfied that all criteria in respect of eligibility and suitability have been met; all relevant documents are in place and recommendations are positive the Adoption Authority will grant a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability.
A Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability is valid for a period of 2 years from the date it is granted by the Authority. The Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability may include in it a statement relating to the age or state of health of a child whom the Authority considers that the prospective adoptive parent(s) are suited to parent, based on the information provided in the assessment report. Under current legislation, a one year extension to the Declaration of Eligibility may be granted by the Authority.The original Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability is sent to the applicants. A copy is given to the Assessing Social Worker for their records and the Authority retains a copy for the Adoption record.
When a Declaration of Eligibility has been granted the next step in the adoption process will depend on the nature of the adoption.