Domestic adoption refers to the situation where a child who is resident in Ireland is adopted by a couple or individual also resident in Ireland. The nature and effect of an Irish adoption order is that the child becomes the child of the adopter(s) as if born to them with all the rights and duties of parent(s) and children in relation to each other. Please note that Irish adoption legislation only allows for the adoption of a child.
A child is defined as a person who has not yet reached eighteen years of age. It is not possible for a person eighteen years of age or older to be adopted in Ireland.
There are four different types of domestic adoption –
- Extended family/relative adoption
- Domestic infant adoption
- Long term foster care to adoption.
At present Pact undertakes both domestic infant and stepfamily adoption assessments.
In order to begin the adoption process, you will need to get in touch with your local adoption office of Tusla – The Child and Family Agency. The contact details for the local offices can be found here.
Domestic Infant adoption
The term domestic infant adoption refers to the adoption of a child habitually resident in Ireland, who is eligible for adoption as per the Adoption Act 2010 as amended, by a person/s over the age of 21 years habitually resident in Ireland, who have met the standards of eligibility and suitability as per Sections 33/34 of the Adoption Act 2010 and are seeking to adopt an infant placed for adoption by their birth parent/s.
It is the only type of domestic adoption where there is no pre-existing relationship between the child and their adoptive parent/s.
What is a Domestic Infant Adoption Assessment or Home Study?
Persons wishing to have a child placed with them for adoption will undergo a detailed assessment process. The purpose of this assessment is to establish the suitability of the prospective adoptive parents to adopt a child. The assessment process also gives applicants an opportunity to discuss adoption and what it means to them. It is designed to help you learn and think about what you have to offer a child in need of an adoptive home. It facilitates you to identify your own strengths and skills which will help you to care for an adopted child. Like intercountry adoption, it is important that you feel you have the confidence to parent a child who has experienced the loss of their birth parents. If you want to be considered for adoption it is important that you be prepared to gain appropriate parenting skills through education, research, and workshops. You will have the opportunity to consider this further during the preparation course and assessment.
Interviews are conducted in your home and/or at our offices or the offices of local Tusla services. If you already are a parent, we will also want to meet with your children where this is appropriate. Your social worker will decide suitable times and dates with you. This may require that you take some time off work. A letter can be written to your employer giving details of the interviews you are required to attend so that you do not have to take these days as annual leave. Generally, we meet you for 6-8 interviews to complete the assessment, although this can vary depending on your individual circumstances.
As with intercountry adoption, interviews will cover a number of topics which impact on your suitability to become an adopted parent. For example, we will explore your own childhood experiences and how these have influenced you. As many of our early experiences affect how we respond to situations as adults we will reflect on these with you and how they may impact on your parenting and the additional demands of an adopted child. We will also discuss with you, and your partner, if you are adopting as a couple how you relate to one another and how you resolve difficulties when they arise. If you are a sole applicant, we will explore your significant relationships and the support networks in your life. The interviews will also look at why you have decided that adoption is right for you at this time.
Other key areas that will be explored with you will include the complex range of issues associated with adoption, such as identity development and the importance of the family of origin. Adopted children have a need to know about their birth family and should be encouraged to ask questions and helped to understand difficult issues. It will be important that you consider how you can support the child to continue to feel a connection to their original family.
Children who are adopted domestically will have lived in foster homes, some for several months, and may have experienced a number of different moves before they are adopted. You will be asked how you think these experiences will have influenced the child and to outline some practical steps you could take when caring for a child who has experienced a number of carers in their lives. Adopted children may have difficulties forming relationships and attachments. You will be asked to think about how you might help a child who has gone through these early experiences to feel safe in your home and to have confidence in you as their parent.
The assessment will explore your attitudes and understanding of issues such as substance abuse during pregnancy and the impact of mental health issues both during and after birth on the child. You will need to consider the resources and supports that are available and how they can be accessed. Some of these services are only available privately and you will have to be able to finance them if they are needed.
Children adopted will have a wide range of backgrounds and potential health needs. These needs range from short term health issues which may require medical intervention and cause no further concerns, to long term conditions such as mild to moderate intellectual or physical disabilities. A child with an intellectual or physical disability will often need long term medical services and emotional support. There is the possibility that there will be long term effects on the child if there has been substance abuse during pregnancy such as alcohol or if the birth parents have had serious mental health issues. We will ask you to research these so that you can decide which children you would be in the best position to parent.
What happens Next?
When your assessment has been completed your social worker will write a report. This is discussed with the Principal Social worker of Pact before a recommendation is made about your eligibility and suitability.
Your report is then forwarded to an Adoption Committee of Tusla Child and Family Agency which considers it and also makes a recommendation.
If the Adoption Committee endorse your application, your assessment report and supporting documentation are then submitted to the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI).
Your documentation and your assessment are reviewed by the administration and Social work team at the AAI and, if satisfactory, a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability to Adopt is granted.
Domestic adoption applicants who are granted a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability to Adopt are added to a list of prospective adopters held by Tusla- the Child and Family agency. When a child becomes available for domestic adoption, Tusla, will then examine the profiles of everyone holding a valid Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability to try to determine a potential match based on certain preferences outlined by birth parent(s). At least three profiles will be provided to the birth parent(s) of the infant without any identifying information. The parent(s) with the support of their social worker will then select one of the profiles. The social worker will contact the relevant prospective adoptive parents to see if they are willing to proceed with the placement of the child into their care.
Once a placement has been successful, the next step for the prospective adoptive parents is to apply to the Adoption Authority for an adoption order. The prospective adoptive parents will be supported in doing this by Tusla.
The Adoption Authority does not usually finalise an adoption until the prospective adoptive parents have had the child in their care for a minimum of six months.