Updated: January 2016
If you are an unmarried mother or unmarried and pregnant and are considering placing your baby for adoption you can you contact:
- your local pregnancy counselling service, see www.positiveoptions.ie or freetext LIST to 50444 for a list of free, state-funded crisis pregnancy counselling agencies. A counsellor can discuss the adoption process with you.
- the adoption service in TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency - local office, or
- a duty social worker in the Adoption Authority.
What is Adoption?
Adoption is a legal process that allows a parent to place her/his baby with another family permanently. It ends the legal relationship between the birth parents and their baby and marks the beginning of a new and legal relationship between a baby and her/his adoptive parents. A baby becomes a member of the adoptive family as if s/he was born into that family.
Who can apply to adopt?
The following persons can apply to adopt:
- a married couple
- the mother, father or a 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. It is not possible at present for cohabitants to apply to adopt jointly, however one of the cohabitants can apply to adopt. The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 makes provision for civil partners and cohabiting couples to become eligible to apply to adopt. However this section of the Act has not yet been commenced.
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Whose consent is required before an adoption order can be made?
If the father is a legal guardian of the child then his consent to the adoption is required by law. If the father is not a guardian of the child he must be consulted about the adoption where this is possible. If consultation is not possible or is considered inappropriate, the Adoption Authority, following approval of the High Court, may make the adoption order without consulting the father.
Who must be consulted before an adoption order can be made?
If the birth father is not a guardian of the child his consent is not required but he must be consulted about the adoption where this is possible. The father will have at least 21 days from the day he receives notice to make an application for guardianship of the child. If it is not possible or it is considered inappropriate to contact the father, the Adoption Authority, having first obtained the approval of the High Court, may make the adoption order without consulting the birth father.
If a father is concerned that he may not be consulted by the Adoption Authority, he can make a request in writing to the Adoption Authority, before or after the birth of his child, that he be consulted if:
- his child is being placed for adoption, or
- an application has been made by the mother or a relative to adopt his child.
Following the commencement of the relevant sections of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015, other legal guardians and persons who have had the day-to-day care of the child (in loco parentis) will have a right to be heard by the Adoption Authority before an adoption order can be made. This will not include temporary guardians or court appointed guardians who have not been given the right to be involved in procedures concerning consent to adoption.
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If you are considering placing your baby for adoption you may find the following leaflet useful
Introduction to Adoption - Please note that this leaflet is currently being updated to reflect recent changes in legislation and current practice.
The "Introduction to Adoption" leaflet briefly outlines what is involved in adoption. This booklet is useful for parents who are in the early stages of considering placing their child for adoption. It is useful for both mothers and fathers.
It is also available in:
Where a woman who has a child outside marriage and is in a new relationship with someone other than the father, it is possible for both her and her new partner, to whom she is married, to apply to adopt the child. The same rules will apply where a father who has the primary care (custody) of his child wishes to apply to adopt the child with someone other than the mother and to whom he is married. See section on "Step Parent Adoption".
For a list of state-funded crisis pregnancy counselling agencies, see www.positiveoptions.ie or freetext LIST to 50444.
To contact your local adoption service, see here - TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency - local office
The Adoption Authority of Ireland
Shelbourne House, Shelbourne Road, Dublin 4
Tel: 01 – 2309300
Duty Social Worker: 01-2309306 (Social Work Counselling Calls Only)
If you would like to talk through your individual situation please call us on our confidential LoCall number 1890 252 084 or our landline 01 6700120