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    What is Intercountry Adoption

    What is intercountry adoption

    Intercountry adoption refers to the situation where persons resident in Ireland decide to adopt a child who is resident in a country other than Ireland. The nature and effect of such an adoption is that the child becomes the child of the adopter as if born to her or him or to them, in the case of a qualified couple with all the rights and duties of parents and children in relation to each other. 

    Intercountry adoption was given a statutory basis in 1991 with the passing of the Adoption Act in that year and the most recent principal legislation in this area which is the Adoption Act 2010.

    In order for an intercountry adoption to be recognised by the Irish State certain procedures must be complied with.  Those procedures are laid down in the Adoption Act 2010 and 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The Adoption Amendment Act was commenced in October 2017

    The following is a summary of those steps.

    As prospective adoptive parent(s) you must hold a valid Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability. During the assessment process for the Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability you will have made a decision about which country you intend to adopt from. On receipt of your Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability and based on that decision you then must work with the appropriate agency who have been accredited by the Authority to work in that particular country. See Country Information to get the name of the agency you need to contact.


    When the adoption has been effected in the other country and the child has been brought to Ireland, you are required to make an application to have the adoption entered into the Register of Intercountry Adoptions (RICA). This application must be made not later than three months after the child first enters the State after their adoption in the other country.

    The steps in the process 

    Article 2 of the Hague Convention states that the Convention shall apply where a child habitually resident in one Contracting State (in this case a country outside of Ireland) has been, is being, or is to be moved to another Contracting State (Ireland) either after his or her adoption in the State of origin by spouses or a person habitually resident in the receiving State, or for the purposes of such an adoption in the receiving State or in the State of origin. The Convention covers only adoptions which create a permanent parent-child relationship.

    Hague - Habitual Residence

    Under the Convention the following procedures apply –

    The Adoption Authority of Ireland sends an Article 15 which includes and Assessment Report on the prospective adoptive parent(s) to the National Central Authority of the country of origin. This is considered by the National Central Authority NCA in the child’s county of origin.

    If satisfied with the Application the National Central Authority of the country of origin matches the child with prospective adoptive parent(s) and sends an Article 16 Child Study Report to the Adoption Authority of Ireland for consideration. The Article 16 Report includes documents and details of the child’s eligibility, birth circumstances and needs, birth parent counselling and decisions, the matching process with the child at the centre, and the Article 15 papers relevant to the selected prospective adoptive parent(s).

    The Article 16 report is considered by the Adoption Authority of Ireland and if satisfied an Article 17 Child Placement Agreement Notice is sent to the National Central Authority of the country of origin for the child. The Article 17 Notice allows the child to be placed with the prospective adoptive parents.

    The procedure for the granting of the Adoption Order is followed according to the legislation in the country of origin. Following the granting of an Adoption Order the National Central Authority of the country of origin issues an Article 23 Certificate confirming that the adoption has been effected in accordance with the terms and conditions of the 1993 Hague Convention.

    Under Article 22 of the Convention, the functions outlined in Articles 15, 16 and 17 of the Convention may be delegated to approved accredited bodies. See Country Information for details of the approved accredited body for each country.

     Who can apply for Intercountry Adoption?

    People living in Ireland who have been granted a Qualification and Suitability Notice for their chosen country.

    How do I apply for a Eligibility and Suitability Notice?

    You must contact your local adoption service in Tusla - the Child and Family Agency or a relevant Accreditation Body. The information in the section of the prospective adopters of this website can be read for further details.

    Making a Decision about the Country to Adopt a Child.

    As part of the assessment process applicants will be required to decide which country they wish to adopt. This option is to be taken from the list of countries with which the Authority operates for adoption purposes. In general, prospective adoptive parents can only adopt a child from the 1993 Hague Convention on Child Protection and Co-operation on Intercountry Adoption, including from countries accepting applications from Ireland.

    Different countries operate different systems for dealing with intercountry adoption applications. These typically include checking the eligibility of applicants under the country's explicit criteria. It may include a check on the age of children available for intercountry adoption against the age of the child / children for whom the applicants have been assessed. In some countries the age and marital status of applicants will be a determining factor and in other countries, certain health or medical conditions will be a determining factor. Best practice is to research these issues before you decide on your country of choice. See some Country Information section of this website for more information.

    First Stage of the Process

    The process of intercountry adoption is governed by protocols laid down in Irish legislation and more specifically in the Hague Convention.

    Under the terms of the Convention the assessment report (also known as the study report at home) and the Eligibility and Suitability Declaration (collectively designated under Hague as the Article 15 report) must be sent to the applicant's country of choice. The Adoption Authority of Ireland or an institution accredited by the Authority submits an Article 15 Report to that Central Authority for that purpose. It is the policy of the Authority to use accredited institution services for this part of the process whenever possible.

    Matching & Adoption Process

    A child is matched with applicants in the child's country of origin and is based on the suitability of prospective adoptive parents and their potential as a parent(s) for the child. The overriding concern of the Hague Convention is the welfare of the child and the principles used are to get the best home for the child to be adopted. So, in some countries, for the benefit of the child concerned, some prospective parents may be waiting longer than others to be matched with a child, based on the particular needs of the children to be adopted.

    Where a match has been made the child is referred by the Central Authority or an accredited institution in the child's country of origin. The potential matching is communicated to the Authority or to an accredited institution based in Ireland in the form of a child-study report. It is called Article 16 of Hague and and typically includes a background report on the child to be adopted, birth parents (if known) the child's medical history and proof of permissions, where relevant, acquired, on the way and in the required format.

    The Authority must consider all such referrals and make a decision, based on the resources of the prospective adopters to meet the needs of the individual referral child, taking into account the contents of the Article 16 report and the assessment report. prospective directors.

    As this is considered to be the most important step in the adoption process, the Authority could employ the services of professionals, such as medical professionals, social workers and other disciplines to assist it in making decisions in these cases. If the Authority is not fully satisfied that this particular match is in the best interests of the child concerned, it may, without reference to the prospective adopters concerned, return the referral to the country of origin.

    If satisfied with the suitability of the prospective matching the Authority shall issue an Article 17 letter (an agreement that the prospective matching can proceed). The prospective adopters will be informed of this and, following consultation where necessary, will be asked whether or not to accept the referral. After considering the referral child, the prospective Adopters could, in some cases, travel to the country of origin to see the child and decide if they wish to accept the child. One way or another, the prospective parents are entitled to change their minds up to the time the adoption is completed.

    While many countries require prospective adopters to complete adoption in the country of origin, there are a number that require the child to be adopted in Ireland (this is the case for the Philippines).

    Some countries provide guardianship with a requirement that prospective adopters provide post placement pre-adoption reports for a prescribed period before the adoption is completed in the courts of the country of origin (for example in Thailand and the USA).

    Pre-adoption reports, post placement

    Pre-adoptive, post-placement reports from a number of countries are required for a specified period from prospective adoptive parents to whom guardianship of the child has been granted and before final adoption takes place. In general, this is a legal requirement for adoption in these countries, without which the adoption cannot progress.

    Post Adoption and Registration of Adoption

    The final step in the intercountry adoption process is the registration of adoption. This is a formal legal recognition of the adoption by the Irish State through the Adoption Authority. The adoptive parents must submit an application for registration of the adoption to the Authority within 3 months of their entry into the State following their adoption. The Authority may register the adoption in the Register of Intercountry Adoptions on the basis of the Certificate of Article 23 obtained from the child's country of origin. Article 23 is a certificate from the country of origin confirming that the adoption was carried out in compliance with the Hague Convention.

    The Intercountry Adoption Program (RICA) includes details of the adopted child and adoptive parents and is a public document available for public inspection.

    Certificates or copies of extracts from the Register are available from the Authority for an appropriate fee and serve as birth certificates in compliance with all legal functions for children who have been adopted into Ireland by persons resident here.

    Post Adoption Reports

    It is a condition of adoption in many countries that adopters will provide information on the child's situation and ongoing progress to the adopted country of origin.

    This information is typically provided in reports called post placement reports or post-adoption reports. These reports are usually completed by persons or bodies accredited by the Adoption Authority to provide such services to the clients and are usually compiled by a qualified Social Worker.

    The frequency and content of these reports is determined by the country of origin of the adopted child. There will normally be a commitment to provide these reports signed by applicants who wish to adopt a child in a particular country and such commitments may be a prerequisite for the adoption of an application for adoption in many countries.

    Under Irish legislation, the Authority does not have the power to require adopters to provide post-adoption reports, as adoptions completed confer the same rights on adopters, obligations and entitlements in respect of their children, as if the children were born onto themselves.  However, if adopters do not pay attention to, or adhere to, the terms of their commitment to post-adoption reports, it may have consequences if they wish to adopt again. Or more often, there may be negative impact on other prospective adopters wishing to adopt from the same country. Applicants are therefore strongly advised to adhere to the terms of the post-adoption reporting regime relating to their cases.

    Mission Statement

    " To ensure the provision of the highest possible standards of adoption related services, throughout the lifelong adoption process, with the best interests of children as the first and paramount objective."