Adoption (Amendment) Bill 2016

The long awaited amendments to our adoption laws have finally reached committee stage in the Dail.

It will bring into force the provisions of part 11 of the Children & Family Relationship Act 2015 by repealing them and bringing them forward into the Bill. It references the Children’s Referendum – Article 42A of the Constitution -by providing for the views of the child to be taken into account where appropriate.

The main changes are:

  • Children of married parents are now eligible for adoption.
  • Civil partners and couples who have been living together for three years can apply to adopt.
  • A step parent who is married to the birth parent can now adopt without the birth parent also having to adopt – up to now the birth parent had to make the application jointly with the step parent, effectively applying to adopt their own child.
  • Fathers and relevant non guardians (second female parent) can now give notice that they wish to be notified in the event that an application to adopt is received by the Adoption Authority.
  • This Bill introduces a provision for adoption where the parents, married or unmarried, have abandoned a child and have failed for a continuous period for three years in their duty to that child. Our current law prohibits married parents from placing a child for adoption. This has left many children in long-term foster care who could have been adopted were it not for this outdated prohibition. These changes are a welcome addition to our laws.

Since 2005, it has been open to parents of adopted children and adopted children to place their names on the National Adoption Contact Register. The level of contact can be specified for example letter only. This register can be found on the Adoption website – www.aai.gov.ie

More information on adoption and the process of applying for eligibility to adopt can be obtained at www.tusla.ie the website for the Child and Family Agency.