Background pre 1991

Up to 1991 the number of foreign adoptions involving Irish residents was very small. In addition there was no structural framework in existence in Ireland under which foreign adoptions could be given full legal recognition. The Adoption Act of 1952 which dealt with domestic adoptions only did not cover foreign adoptions.

However during the 1980’s due to the change in social attitude and improvements in the welfare system the number of Irish born children being offered for adoption dwindled to such an extent that the needs of Irish couples seeking to adopt could no longer be satisfied from within the State. Accordingly despite the absence of a structural framework a large number of Irish couples began to look aboard for children that they might adopt. In 1989 Romania allowed foreign adoption and a large number of children were brought to Ireland. There was no official procedure in place for assessing the eligibility and suitability of persons intending to adopt abroad. Consequently Irish couples negotiated the terms of a child’s adoption with the local adoption agency in Romania following which they appeared before a local Court for the purposes of securing approval of the adoption and leave to remove the child from Romania. They then travelled back to Ireland with their child. These adoptions though apparently valid under Romanian law were not recognised under Irish law.

Present Day Situation

In 1991 the Adoption Act was passed to remedy this situation. This provided the necessary Statutory framework for all future foreign adoptions involving couples of Irish domicile or residence. The Act authorised the making of Adoption Orders in respect of foreign adoptions which also included adoptions made before the commencement of the Act provided such adoptions were deemed lawful under the law of the place in which the adoptions were effected or otherwise met certain criteria laid down by the Act.

The Act provided for the establishment of the Adoption Board and maintenance of a register of foreign adoptions. Registration rights were also extended to Irish couples either where domiciled or habitually resident in the country.

Eligibility and Suitability Test

Persons intending to adoption a child must be able to prove that they fall within one of the categories of persons eligible to be adopters and then undergo a rigorous assessment (the House Study Programme) to determine their suitability to be adopters. Such assessments are carried out by the appropriate Health Service Executive area or by a registered Adoptions Society. Eligibility is generally determined by reference of martial status and consanguinity or other relationship based on or arising from marriage. The intended adopters must be over 21 years of age and must be ordinarily resident in this state. Suitability is based on the intending adopters being able to satisfy by means of their assessment the criteria contained within Section 13 of the Adoption Act of 1952.

One very beneficial effect of the procedures is that persons now going abroad to adopt are much better prepared for what lies ahead and the risk of having a disappointing or traumatic experience is substantially reduced.

Document Dossier

Persons who have obtained from the Adoption Board a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability and who are in a possession of an Immigration Certificate may commence the next stage of preparation which is to satisfy the regulations and procedures of the Authorities of the foreign country where the adoption is to be effected. This can be onerous and time consuming official requirements vary from country to country. Intending adopters are obliged to send a dossier containing a substantial amount of information and documentation. This is a very lengthy list and would require inter alia visits to An Garda Siochana, medical Doctors, birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc.

The proposed adopters are generally required to obtain a Notary Public for the purpose of having the adoption papers notarised.

The timeframe in processing a successful application is lengthy and would be applicants should allow for this when commencing the Adoption process.

If you require any further information please contact David Lavelle or Jennifer Ward.

27 July 2010

    Gillian and all at Augustus Cullen Law, A million thanks for a great job done. Justice for our son at last!!

    Catherine, Liam & William

    Dear Michael, A great result was achieved because of your efforts and we were truly blessed to have you on our side.

    Kathleen, Medical Negligence Client

    Dear Joice…you are and have been very professional, sympathetic and dignified in all of your dealings with us and I put that down to one simple fact. You listened.

    James, Medical Negligence Client

    Geraldine, Thank you most sincerely for all your hard work and commitment to these children.

    Freda McKittrick, Head of Barnardos Beacon Guardian Ad Litem service

    Neil is an absolute gentleman to deal with – kind, tactful and very efficient. We could not praise him highly enough. He brought us through a horrible time.

    Sean, Medical Negligence Client

    Many thanks again for a job well done. We really appreciate all your hard work and practical advice.

    Corporate client in a commercial litigation matter

    Dear Jamie, You and your team in ACL were so professional, diligent and prompt. I have recommended you and the firm, and will continue to do so

    Lorraine McCarthy

    Gus Cullen and the firm’s approach to addressing the key issues was professional, yet personal, efficient yet attentive.


    The process is a difficult one and when you deal with people who are so professional and yet genuine/real people, it makes it so much easier... so thanks a million.


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