Social workers work with people at all stages of the lifelong adoption process, from crisis pregnancy through to decisions about adoption, assessment of prospective adoptive parents, matching children with suitable prospective parents, talking directly with children about adoption, and providing post adoption support. Social workers at the Adoption Authority (AAI) monitor and review the delivery of these services nationally so that a consistently high quality of social work service can be delivered to everyone involved in the adoption process.

Also at the AAI, social workers provide mediation and counselling to people who have been linked on the National Adoption Contact Preference Register. Social workers carry out full searches, traces and reunions in cases where no agency was involved in the adoption, such as private and family adoptions. The social work duty line is also a source of advice, information and referral for people requiring adoption services.

The social work team at the AAI provide information and training sessions and develop guidelines for best practice in adoption services. The team is involved in the accreditation and inspection of adoption agencies, in responding to trends in adoption practice, and in commissioning research and implementing findings. Social workers are part of the multi-disciplinary and integrated approach that ensures the provision of safe care in permanent homes for children in adoption. The team is also part of the AAI integrated approach to information, support and tracing services for adults in adoption.

The telephone number for the Social Work Duty line is + 353 1 2309 306


Pregnant and thinking about Adoption

What are my choices?

If you have just found out that you are pregnant, you may be feeling very confused about the future and the important decisions you have to make. It may be of help if you can discuss the situation with the baby’s father, or with your own family. It may also be useful to talk things over with someone who is not directly involved and to get expert advice on the options open to you. There are a number of agencies that you can access online for information about your options in relation to a crisis pregnancy, such as 

You may be considering looking after your baby yourself, perhaps with the help of your partner or family. If you are considering keeping your baby you must begin to think about the future. You should get advice about benefits and other help that may be available, whether you are planning to make a home with the baby’s father or not. Advice and information can be obtained on and and 

In considering all of your choices, this web information aims to give you some facts about adoption.

If you are considering adoption there is a number of adoption service providers located around the country. See list below of Adoption Service Providers that can assist you with your decisions about adoption. 

What exactly is adoption?

Adoption is a way of providing a child with new legal parents. It ends the legal relationship between the child and the birth parents and establishes a new one with the adoptive parents. Children can be placed for adoption with specified relatives within their families of origin. In these family adoptions it is important that all involved obtain counselling through the local Tusla-Child and Family Adoption Services. All non-family adoptions are arranged through adoption service providers such as the Tusla-Child and Family Adoption Services and adoption service providers which are accredited and regulated by the Adoption Authority of Ireland. There is no other way by which a child can be legally placed for adoption.

Adoption Orders are made by the Adoption Authority of Ireland, a body appointed by the Government. Once granted, an adoption order is final and cannot be revoked.

What happens when you go to an adoption social worker?

The role of the adoption social worker is to help you work out what is best for you and your baby. The social worker will help you look at both the option of keeping your child and placing him or her for adoption.

If you wish the social worker will talk to you about the Adoption process. The social worker will ask you for some information about yourself, your family and the baby’s father. The social worker will also need to talk to the father, if possible.

The father of the child has a legal right to be notified and consulted about a planned adoption and he will be advised of all his legal rights, unless there are compelling reasons for not doing so. You will also be advised of your legal rights as mother of the child.

It will be important for you to keep in contact with your social worker throughout the pregnancy. This does not mean that you are committing yourself to an adoption decision. Nothing will be definitely arranged until after the birth.

Role of the hospital social worker

If there is a social worker in the hospital you are attending, it is important that you link in with that worker as soon as possible in your pregnancy so that they can support you and facilitate arrangements for your care in hospital. You can make an appointment with the hospital social worker by phoning the hospital directly (consult the phone directory) and ask to be put through to the medical social worker. If there is no social worker available in the hospital, it is important that you contact one of the adoption service providers listed below.

What happens after my baby is born?

You will be encouraged to see and care for your baby while in hospital. Usually the adoption social worker will visit you in hospital to further discuss your feelings and plans now that your baby has been born. It is important to talk to your social worker about your plans for discharge from hospital, preferably before your baby is born. 

Who registers my baby’s birth?

It is a legal requirement for you to register your baby’s birth. Each hospital has a designated person who will tell you how and where to register the birth, or see and go to ‘registering a birth’.

Short term foster care

If you request, arrangements can be made to place your baby in short term foster care. You will be required to complete a form giving your permission for this to be arranged. While your baby is in short term foster care you will be able to visit. You should use this time to consider both keeping your baby, and adoption. If you have doubts, take time to reach a decision in consultation with your social worker. It is important that you are satisfied that adoption is the right option for both you and your baby before he or she is placed with an adoptive family.

When is an adoption placement made?

If you reach the decision that adoption is the best plan for you and your baby, you will be asked to sign a form giving your initial consent for your baby to be placed with an adoptive family. Then in consultation with you, the adoption service providers will select a family for your baby. When authorised by the Adoption Authority of Ireland, the baby is placed with the adoptive family.

How am I involved in choosing the adoptive family?

Your social worker will discuss with you the kind of family in which you want your child to grow up. You might have strong feelings about the adoptive parents’ interests, personalities, cultural background, religion or education. As far as possible, adoptive parents will be chosen who have similar background, interests and physical characteristics as that which you have decided, and which your child needs. You will be given some non-identifying information about the adoptive family.

Talk with your social worker about the possibility of meeting the prospective adoptive family before or after your child is placed with the family, or about the possibility of on-going contact.

What if I change my mind?

Everybody involved in adoption recognises that it is a serious step for a mother to take and one that must be thought through properly.

Take time with your decision. If, after the child has been placed with the adoptive parents and before the making of the Adoption Order, you change your mind and want to reclaim your child, you should contact your social worker or the Tusla-Child and Family Adoption Services without delay, to make arrangements to have the child returned to your care. If the prospective adoptive parents decline to give up the child, it is open to you to take legal action to have custody of the child restored to you. Should this situation arise you would need to consult a solicitor as a Court case may be involved.

When the Adoption Order has been granted, your legal relationship with and responsibilities for your child will transfer to the adoptive parents.

What kind of contact will I have with my child?

Adoption today usually involves continuing contact between birth parents and the adoptive family. If you wish, you will be able to get information about how your child is getting on, until the Adoption Order is made. After that, any ongoing contact is by informal agreement between you and the adoptive family as it is not legally possible to make an adoption order with conditions such as access. Contact is facilitated by the adoption service provider and can be either “letter-box” or “open” contact.

“Letter-box” contact is where regular exchanges of information, presents and photographs are passed between you and the adoptive parents as your child is growing up. Where there is “open” contact, you can keep in direct contact with your child and visit him or her usually in the adoptive home. This contact is usually once or twice a year.

The importance of background information for your child?

Most people are curious to know something about their background, for example medical and social information about their families of origin. Adoptive parents are advised to tell children from an early age that they are adopted and to share with them as much information as possible. The sharing of information is a gradual process and increases as the child grows in understanding. It is important for you to keep in contact with the agency so as to provide up-to-date details such as medical information that may be relevant to your child.

And finally...

Adoption service providers encourage adoptive parents to keep in contact and to ask for advice and help if they need it.

While birth parents continue to remember their child, they can move on with their lives in a positive and meaningful way.

Your baby’s future is important so you should not make a hasty decision. Get all the advice you can and consider all the possibilities before you make up your mind.

Adoption Service Providers who will provide information on adoption and assist you with your decisions:

Eastern area

Tusla - Child and Family Adoption Services, Dartmouth House, Kylemore Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin 10 Tel 01-6201100 Service covers counties Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare in East and Midlands
PACT, Tel 01 2962200 National service provided


Tusla - Child and Family Adoption Services
Laois/Offaly 057 9370700
Longford /Westmeath Tel 043 3350783


Tusla - Child and Family Adoption Services
Service covers Limerick, Tipperary NR, Clare
Tel 061 206820/206841


Tusla - Child and Family Adoption Services
Service covers Meath, Louth, Cavan, Monaghan Tel 041 9832963


Tusla - Child and Family Adoption Services
Service covers Sligo Leitrim, Donegal
Tel 074-9104716


Tusla - Child and Family Adoption Services
Service covers Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary SR, Waterford, Wexford
Tel 051 860048

South, South-West

Tusla-Child and Family Adoption Services
Service covers Cork Tel 021 4858650
Kerry Tel 066 7195628


Tusla-Child and Family Adoption Services
Service covers Galway Tel 091 775057
Mayo and Roscommon Tel 094 9042511

Other Useful Addresses

Adoption Authority of Ireland, Shelbourne House, Shelbourne Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. Tel 01 2309 300 (main line) and 01 2309 306 (social work counselling line).
Barnardo’s Adoption Advice Service 01 8230642
Treoir, The National Federation of services for unmarried parents and their children
Unplanned pregnancy counselling service providers at

This web publication by the Adoption Authority of Ireland in April 2016, reviews and updates the previous production by representatives of Cunamh; North Eastern Health Board Child and Family Centre; PACT; Social Work Departments of the Coombe Women’s Hospital, National Maternity Hospital, Rotunda Hospital and TREOIR, which was printed with financial assistance of the Department of Health and Children, Women’s Health Section.

Published: Friday, 08 January 2016 11:46
Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 June 2019 16:09