Information for Birth Fathers
If you and the mother of your child are considering placing your child for adoption there are a number of people you can speak to in order to help you make your decision. You can contact your local adoption services in Tusla - Child and Family Agency or accredited body or you can talk to a duty social worker in the Adoption Authority on 01-2309306. If you would like to read some information before speaking to a social worker you can click here.
The information below will also give you some indication of what steps are involved if you make the decision to place your child for adoption.
Consent to adoption
The consent of a child’s legal guardian or guardians is required before the child can be placed for adoption. The birth mother of a child is automatically a guardian of the child. As the father of a child, to have guardianship status, you must either be married to the mother at the time of the birth, have married the mother after the birth of the child and re-registered the child’s birth to reflect this, or you obtained guardianship through a court order or statutory declaration.
Are you a legal guardian of your child?
If you are the legal guardian of a child your consent must be obtained before the child can be placed for adoption. Your consent is also required to allow an adoption order to be made in respect of the child. The consent can only be given after counselling has been received as consent must be given in a free and informed manner. The social worker must be satisfied that you understand the implications, legal and personal, of the decision you are making. There are specific consent documents which must be completed by you and sworn before a Commissioner for Oaths.
If you are not a legal guardian
If you are not a legal guardian of the child your consent is not required in order to allow the placement of the child for adoption or to allow the adoption application to proceed. You are however entitled to be notified of the proposed placement for adoption, or the proposed application for an adoption order. Your views on the placement of the child for adoption or the making of an adoption order will be requested. These are two separate steps. In some cases such as stepparent adoption consultation is only required for the adoption order part of the process as the child is already in place with the mother.
Birth Father Register
If you are aware that the mother of your child intends to place the child for adoption without letting you know or against your wishes, or you are concerned that this might happen, you can notify the Authority that you wish to be notified and consulted if this comes to pass. You can do this even before the child is born if necessary. The Authority then records the details provided by you on the Birth Father Register. This Register is checked against all applications for adoption.
To do this you need to complete a document called a Form F3. You can download the form at the link below or you can request one from the Authority by email or telephone firstname.lastname@example.org or 01 2309 349.
When you complete the form and return it you will receive written confirmation that your details have been entered on the Birth Father Register. In the event that an application comes to the Authority for the adoption of the child that you have identified you will be contacted by the Authority.
Notification to Birth fathers of placement for adoption or an adoption application
As part of the process of placing the child for adoption and allowing the adoption application to proceed the birth mother is asked to identify the child’s father in order that the legislation can be complied with in relation to notifying and consulting him. The social worker working with the mother will then make a formal request to the Authority to check the Birth Father Register to if there is a notice from the father of the child recorded on the Register.
What happens next?
As a named birth father, whether you are on the birth father register or not, you will be contacted by a social worker in writing notifying you that an application has been made to place the child for adoption or for the making of an adoption order in respect of the child. During the consultation process you may be offered counselling, informed of your legal rights and requested to give your views. A specific form will be sent to you for completion. The form outlines a number of options as well as asking for your view on the placement or the adoption. The form is the official record of you views. You can indicate whether or not you object to the proposed placement or adoption, you can also indicate whether or not you intend to seek legal advice, to make an application to the courts, or state whether you would like to meet with a social worker or be heard by the Board of the Adoption Authority.
If you have no objection to the application you indicate this in the form and the application can proceed.
If you chose to make an application to court for guardianship this must be done within a set period of time and you must provide evidence of the application to court to the social worker. The application for the placement and or adoption order is suspended until the outcome of your court application is known.
If you have a guardianship order and you are objecting to the placement of the child for adoption or objecting to the application for the adoption of the child the birth mother may make an application to the court to have the guardianship order discharged.
Dispensing with consents
Where the mother has named a birth father but despite all efforts it has not been possible to locate him or engage with him Tusla - Child and Family Agency or the relevant accredited body must submit a report to the Authority. The Authority will make a decision as to whether or not the application can proceed without notification and consultation with him or if further steps need to be taken.
Where a birth father could not be consulted either because he has not been identified or cannot be identified, the birth mother must swear a Statutory Declaration outlining the facts leading to this particular circumstance. The statutory declaration, a background report from the social worker and any other supporting documentation has to be submitted to the Authority and the case must then be referred to the High Court. The High Court is requested to make an order allowing the Authority to proceed with the placement of a child for adoption or the making of an adoption order without consulting the birth father. The Authority cannot proceed with a placement or adoption until such order has been made.
Where an order is made allowing the child to be placed for adoption without notification and consultation of the birth father the placement may proceed. This order does not allow an adoption order to be made. As the law is written if it has not been possible to consult with the birth father since the placement of the child the Authority must go back to the High Court again to apply for an order allow it to make the adoption order without notification and consultation with the birth father.
In a stepfamily adoption the case would only have to go to the High Court once for the order allowing the making of the adoption order. The issue of placement for adoption doesn’t arise where the child living with its mother.
In some exceptional situations where it has not been possible to obtain some or all of the consents required to allow an adoption order to be made a case may be referred to the High Court to decide if it is appropriate to proceed with the adoption order. This situation can arise where the legal guardian(s) cannot be found. It may happen where the legal guardian(s) withhold consent.
Determination of paternity
Where there is a dispute about the paternity of a child, it may be necessary for DNA testing to be carried out. This can arise either where the named father disputes paternity or where a man other than the man named by the mother has registered on the Birth Father Register.
Where a child is born to a married woman, the assumption in law is that her husband is the father of the child unless proven otherwise. In this situation it may be necessary to obtain DNA evidence or the husband and putative father and the mother must make sworn statements of the facts.