All applications for adoption orders are made to the Adoption Authority of Ireland. The Board of the Adoption Authority may grant or refuse to grant applications for adoption orders in relation to Irish adoptions.
What is an adoption order?
An adoption order secures in law the position of the child in the adoptive family. On the making of the adoption order the parent(s) lose(s) all legal rights over the child and are freed from all duties. These rights and duties are transferred to the adoptive parents. The child is regarded in law as the child of the adoptive parents as if he or she were born to them in marriage. An adoption order is a legally binding document. Legal adoption is permanent.
In the event that the adoptive parents get divorced, adoption orders place the same responsibilities on the parents for the adopted child as if he or she was a child of their marriage.
Applying for an Adoption Order
An application must be made in writing to the Adoption Authority of Ireland. The appropriate form to make the application is called Form A1 Application for Adoption.
Before an application for an adoption can be processed, the applicant(s) must have a valid Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability. Where the application for adoption relates to the adoption of a child by stepparents, relatives or foster parents the Form A1 is generally completed at the same time as the application for the Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability. The Form A1 will be provided to you by the social worker in Tusla – Child and Family Agency or the relevant accredited body who carries out the assessment for the Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability.
Adoption Order Hearings
When the adoption application has been processed and all of the required documentation is in order (for example parental consents or court orders) the Authority will write to the applicant(s) inviting them to attend an Adoption Order hearing before the Board of the Authority. The letter will indicate the time, date and venue for the Adoption hearing with a minimum of 7 – 10 working days’ notice.
On the day of the Adoption Order hearing, the adoptive parent(s) and the child to be adopted must attend. It is open to the family to bring along other family members (siblings, grandparents etc.) if they so wish.
Members of the Board of the Adoption Authority and members of the executive of the Adoption Authority will be at the hearing. The number can vary but there are usually 8-10 people in the room.
Adoption hearings usually last between 5 to 10 minutes. While the hearing is brief, and the Authority endeavours to keep it as informal as possible, particularly for children, it is a very important legal event.
A member of the Board will speak to the family before they are brought into the hearing to confirm that everyone who needs to be there is present and to double check the full name that the child will be using once the order is made.
When the family come into the Board room the child and other family members will be asked to take a seat and the adoptive parent(s) will be sworn in by one of the Board members. This can be done by swearing on the Bible, the Old Testament, the Koran or by making a solemn declaration. They will then sit with the child.
The Chair of the Board will welcome the family and explain the procedure.
The Registrar will ask the adoptive parent(s) to verify their identity and eligibility through a series of short questions based on information provided in the Form A1 Application for Adoption.
If the child is of an age (usually over 7 years old) the Chair will ask them to confirm that they are happy for the adoption to proceed.
The adoptive parents and the child (if old enough) will be asked to sign their names.
The Chair will then ask the adoptive parent(s) to confirm that they understand their responsibility in relation to the child on the making of the Adoption Order.
The Adoption Order is then granted.
Child’s name on the making of an adoption order
Before the adoption order hearing applicants are asked to complete a form indicating the name that will go on the adoption order for the child. This can be changed at the adoption order hearing but it is preferable for this to have been discussed and agreed beforehand.
The name that goes on the Adoption Order for the child is their legal name from that date onwards.
After the Adoption Order Hearing
A letter is given to the parents which confirms that the Adoption Order has been made and provides them with information about how to get a new certificate for the child.
The original birth certificate for the child is no longer a valid document for identification purposes. In all instances where a birth certificate is required for official purposes the adopted person should provide a copy of their adoption certificate.
After the adoption order is made, the details for the entry in the Adopted Children Register are sent by the Authority to the General Register Office. The child’s original birth certificate remains on the Register and is unaltered.
If you need copies of an adoption certificate you should contact the General Register Office, Government Buildings, Convent Road, Roscommon, LoCall 1890 252076 (https://www.welfare.ie/en/pdf/Adoption_Application_Form-GRO.pdf).
The Adoption Authority does not issue certificates.