Information for Birth Mothers
If you are considering placing your child for adoption there are a number of people you can speak to in order to help make your decision. You can contact with your local adoption services 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 talking 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 a decision to place your child for adoption.
Consent for the placement of your child for adoption
As the birth mother and the child’s legal guardian your consent to the placement of the child for adoption is required. 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.
Please note that if you are a birth mother who is applying to adopt your own child with your husband through the stepparent adoption process, your consent is implied when you make the joint application with your husband.
If the child’s father is also a legal guardian, his consent will be required for the placement of the child for adoption. If the father is not a legal guardian he is still entitled to be notified and consulted about the proposed placement. This is regardless of whether he is named on the birth certificate or the level or degree of contact he has had with the child since birth.
Identifying birth father
As part of the process of placing the child for adoption and allowing the adoption application to go ahead you will be asked to identify the child’s father in order that the legislation can be complied with in relation to notifying and consulting him.
If the birth father is identified and can be contacted he will be advised, in writing, about the proposed placement of the child for adoption, and at a later stage he will be advised about the adoption application. He will be offered the opportunity to speak to a social worker, to have his views heard by the Board of the Authority, and he will be advised to seek independent legal advice. If he has no objection to the placement and adoption then the application can proceed.
If he indicates that has an objection to the proposed placement or later objects to the adoption he will be given an opportunity to make an application to court for a guardianship, if he so wishes. If he makes an application to court for a guardianship order the application for placement and adoption order will be suspended until the case is finished in court.
If a guardianship order is granted by the court, then his consent to the placement and adoption is needed. If the court does not grant a guardianship order the suspension on the placement application or adoption application is lifted and process can continue.
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.
Where the birth father was identified but despite all efforts it has not been possible to locate him or engage with him Tusla - Child and Family Agency or 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 or if further steps need to be taken.
(iv)The birth father cannot be identified and therefore cannot be notified – in this circumstance the 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 Authority must obtain an order from the High Court to allow an adoption order to be made without consultation of the birth father.
Where a birth father could not be consulted either because he has not been identified or cannot be identified, as the birth mother you will have to swear a Statutory Declaration outlining the facts leading to this particular circumstance. Your social worker will work with you through this and counsel you about the requirements in the Adoption Act and the effect that this may have on the proposed adoption. Your 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.
(vi) The birth father is deceased. In this case the birth father cannot be notified or consulted.
Where the deceased birth father is not named on the child’s birth certificate or in any court orders relating to the child supporting evidence will be required which links the deceased man to the child. The birth father’s death certificate is required to 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 has been dealt with appropriately the application process can move on.
When a court order is 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.
The timing of when cases are heard is at the discretion of the High Court.
Dispensing with consents
In some exceptional situations where it has not been possible to obtain 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. The court must give consideration to what is in the best interests of the child.
Family Law Court Orders
If the birth father of a child has a court order for Guardianship/Access and or Custody in respect of the child the application to have the child placed for adoption or for an adoption order cannot proceed.
If the birth father has a Guardianship Order his consent is required before a child can be placed for adoption or an adoption order can be made.
It is open to you as the birth mother to apply to the district court to have these orders discharged either before starting the process or as early as possible in the process. A copy of the original orders and discharge orders must be submitted to the Authority.
A maintenance order automatically ceases on the making of an adoption order.
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.