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.
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?
Persons resident in Ireland who have been granted a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability for the relevant country of their choice.
Deciding Which Country To Adopt From
As part of the assessment process, applicants will have to make a decision about which country they wish to adopt a child from. This choice will be made from the list of countries with whom the Authority engages for purposes of adoption. Generally speaking, prospective adoptive parents can only adopt from countries which have ratified the 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of Intercountry Adoption and among those, only from countries that will accept applications from Ireland.
Different countries employ different systems for dealing with applications for intercountry adoption. These typically include checking on the applicants’ eligibility under the country’s expressed criteria. It can also include checking the age of children available for Intercountry adoption against the age of the child or children which the applicants are assessed for. In some countries, the age and marital status of the applicants will be a determining factor and in other countries, certain health issues or medical conditions will be a determining factor. It is best practice to research these issues before settling on a country of choice. See Country Information section of this website for more information.
First Stage of Process
The process involved in Intercountry adoption is governed by protocols laid down in both Irish legislation and more specifically in the Hague Convention.
Under the terms of the Convention the assessment report (also known as the home-study report) and the Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability (collectively known under Hague as an Article 15 report) must be submitted to the applicants’ country of choice. The Article 15 Report is submitted to the Central Authority of that country either by the Adoption Authority of Ireland or a body accredited by the Authority for such purposes. It is the policy of the Authority to use the services of accredited bodies for this part of the process wherever possible.
Matching & Adoption process
Matching of a child with applicants is done in the country of origin of the child and is based on the suitability of the prospective adoptive parents and their capacities to parent the child. The overriding concern under the Hague Convention is the welfare of the child and the principles employed are aimed at finding the most suitable home for the child to be adopted. Therefore, in some countries, in the best interests of the child involved, some prospective adoptive parents may wait longer than others to be matched with a child based on the particular needs of the children to be adopted.
When a match is made, a referral of the child is made either by the Central Authority or accredited body in the country of origin of the child. The proposed match is transmitted to either the Authority or an Irish based accredited body in the form of a child-study report. This is known under Hague as an Article 16 and will typically contain a background report on the child to be adopted, the birth-parents (if known), medical history of the child and proof that consents, where applicable, were obtained in the required manner and format.
The Authority must consider all such referrals and make a determination, based on the capacities of the prospective adopters to provide for the needs of the particular child referred, taking into account the information contained in the Article 16 report and the prospective adopters assessment report.
As this is considered to be the most important stage in the adoption process, the Authority may employ the services of professionals, such as medical, social work or other disciplines to assist it in making a determination in these cases. If the Authority is not wholly satisfied that the particular match is in the best interests of the child involved, it may, without reference to the prospective adopters involved, return the referral to the country of origin.
If satisfied with the suitability of the proposed match, the Authority will issue an Article 17 letter (agreement that the proposed match can proceed). The prospective adopters will be informed of this and, following counselling where necessary, will be asked whether they wish to accept the referral or not. Having considered the child referred, the Prospective adopters may, in some cases, travel to the country of origin to see the child and to decide whether they wish to accept the child. Either way, the prospective adopters are entitled to change their minds up to the time the adoption is effected.
While most countries require the prospective adopters to effect the adoption in the country of origin, there are some who require that the child be subsequently adopted in Ireland (this is the case in the Philippines).
Some countries provide guardianship with a requirement that prospective adopters provide pre-adoption post placement reports for a prescribed period before finalising the adoption in the courts of the country of origin (for example in Thailand and the USA).
Pre-adoption, post-placement reports
Pre-adoption, post-placement reports are required by some countries for a specified period from prospective adoptive parents to whom guardianship of the child was granted and before a final adoption is effected. This is generally a legal requirement for adoption in these countries, and without which the adoption may not proceed.
Post Adoption and the Registration of the Adoption
The final step in the intercountry adoption process is the registration of the adoption. This is the 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 re-entering the State following the adoption. The Authority can register the adoption in the Register of Intercountry Adoptions on the basis of an Article 23 Certificate received from the country of origin of the child. The Article 23 is a certificate from the country of origin confirming that the adoption was effected in compliance with the Hague Convention.
The Register of Intercountry Adoptions (RICA) contains details of the adopted child and the adoptive parents and is a public document open to scrutiny by members of the public.
Certificates or copies of extracts from the Register may be obtained from the Authority for the appropriate fee and serve for all legal purposes as birth certificates for children adopted into Ireland by Irish residents.
It is a condition of adoption in many countries that adopters provide information to the country of origin of the adopted child on that child’s ongoing condition and progress.
This information is typically provided in reports known as post-placement or post-adoption reports. These reports are normally completed by persons or bodies accredited by the Adoption Authority to provide such services to adopters 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. Applicants wishing to adopt in a particular country will generally have signed an undertaking to provide these reports and such undertakings may be a pre-requisite to the acceptance of an application for adoption in many countries.
Under Irish legislation, the Authority cannot compel adopters to provide post adoption reports, as adoptions when complete confer upon the adopters the same rights, obligations and entitlements in respect of their families as on those whose families were formed by the addition of children born to them. The State does not have the right to interfere in the newly formed family unit in respect of requiring the adopters to provide any such reports. However, if adopters do not engage with and comply with the terms of their undertakings with regard to post-adoption reports, it may have consequences for the adopters should they seek to adopt again or, as is more common, it may have a negative affect on other prospective adopters who wish to adopt from the same country. Therefore, applicants are strongly urged to comply with the terms of the post-adoption reporting regime applicable in their cases.