Domestic and Intercountry Adoption Law
If you are considering adoption or are already involved in the process and require assistance, be it local or international adoption, MM Family Law Solicitors can advise and assist you from start to finish.
The myriad of adoption services may be overwhelming but we can help figure out what route is best for you. We provide assistance for those who may be only thinking about adoption, or whether you want guidance throughout the whole adoption process. We can also help if you are looking to adopt someone in your family as a step-child.
An Adoption Order secures in law the position of the child in the adoptive family. The child is regarded in law as the child of the adoptive parents as if he/she were born to them. Since 2017, a child born to married parents is eligible to be adopted outside of the marriage as is a child who has previously been adopted. Allow MM Family Law to accompany you as your international adoption lawyers.
Under the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017, a person can apply to adopt their partner’s child. Their partner can consent to the adoption and still keep their parental rights and responsibilities – sharing them with their partner after the adoption order is made. The child must have lived with their parent and prospective step-parent together for a minimum of 2 years.
In order to adopt a child, you must be at least 21 years of age and resident in the State. Where the child is being adopted by a couple and one of them is the mother or father or a relative of the child, only one of them must have reached the age of 21 years.
The following people can adopt:
- A married couple living together
- A couple living together in a civil partnership
- A couple who have been cohabiting together in a relationship for a minimum of 3 years
- The mother, father or relative of the child (relative meaning a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt of the child and/or the spouse of any such person, the relationship to the child being traced through the mother or the father)
- A sole applicant who is not in one of the categories listed above may only adopt where the Adoption Authority of Ireland is satisfied that, in the particular circumstances of the case, it is desirable.
There are no legal upper age limits for adopting parents. After reviewing your individual circumstances, we will provide expert advice on the merit of any application or make you aware of possible alternative options should the need arise.
Applicants who are looking to adopt undergo a detailed assessment. The assessment is carried out by an accredited adoption agency or Tusla social worker. It includes several interviews and home visits. If the application is from a married couple, there are both individual and joint interviews.
All applicants have to undergo a medical examination. The social worker then prepares a report which goes before the local adoption committee and a recommendation is made.
If all documents are in place and correct, the Adoption Authority of Ireland will consider the recommendations and decide whether to grant a declaration of eligibility and suitability. The declaration is granted for a period of 2 years from the date it is issued.
It may include in it a statement relating to the age or state of health of a child whom you are considered suited to parent – this is based on information provided in the assessment report.
If your declaration is about to expire you can apply to have it extended for 1 extra year, provided there have been no changes in your circumstances.
If your Application has been declined, we can offer advice on the appeals process.
The Adoption Authority takes into account several factors when considering an Application for Adoption and the best interests of the child is always the priority.
A declaration of eligibility and suitability does not guarantee that you will be matched with a child during the lifetime of that declaration and indeed the adoption process in Ireland can take several years which can be very difficult for the potential parents
Consent is a necessary approval by a birth mother or any other guardian(s) to a proposed adoption. It must be given in writing using an official consent form. The birth mother and/or guardian must give an initial consent or agreement to the placing of a child for adoption by Tusla or an approved adoption service. They must then give their consent to the making of an adoption order. This consent may be withdrawn any time before the making of the adoption order.
The consent can only be given after counselling has been received as consent must be given in a free and informed manner.
If a mother changes her mind about adoption before the making of the adoption order, but the adopting parents refuse to give up the child, she may then institute legal proceedings to have custody of her child returned to her.
Where consent is not given, the adoption can only proceed on application to the High Court.
We understand that this is a very difficult area of law and we offer our professional advice along with empathy and understanding.
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We will support and guide you throughout your case so that you can be confident of achieving the outcome you want for your family.