In stark contrast to earlier times, most adoptions now constitute inter-country adoptions. The Adoption Authority must recognise and register adoptions that satisfy the conditions in the legislation.
The Authority maintains the register of foreign adoptions. Within three months of the child entering the State after an inter-country adoption from another state, the adopters must apply to the authority for registration of the child in the register. The certificate is equivalent to a birth certificate.
The register may be rectified to follow through legal position. A court order may direct the cancellation of a foreign adoption order. The effect of cancellation would be to sever the legal relationship between the adopting parent and the child.
The Hague Convention on Protection and Cooperation on Intercountry Adoptions, 1993, deals with cooperation on adoption issues between countries who have ratified the Convention. The fundamental rights of children are confirmed.
The Hague Convention is designed to safeguard the fundamental rights of children and parents. The purpose of the Convention is to ensure that the best interests of the child are considered. It is designed to prevent the exploitation, abduction or trafficking of children.
The Convention’s objective is to establish safeguards to ensure that inter-country adoptions take place in the best interests of the child and with respect to his or her fundamental rights as recognised in international law. It seeks to establish a system of cooperation between states so that these safeguards are respected and protected. It seeks to prevent the trafficking and abduction of children. Adoptions are to be made in accordance with the convention.
Ireland ratified the Convention in 2010. The State may enter bilateral agreements based on standards equivalent to those of the Hague Convention with states which are not parties to the Convention. The authority may enter into bilateral agreements with terms similar to those under the Convention.
Each country designates a central authority. The central authority is to cooperate and pass information to other states under the Convention.
The central authorities must establish whether children are eligible for adoption. It matches children with prospective adoptive parents and ensures legality and validity. Financial gain from the adoption process is prohibited.
The competent authority of the other state from which the child is adopted must confirm that the adoption order is made in accordance with the terms of the Convention. They must ensure that no adoptions take place for financial reward.
Undesirable practices must be prevented and dissuaded. Reports must be undertaken on the adoptive parents of the child. The necessary consent must be obtained.
Where a child is resident in one contracting state and is proposed to be adopted into another contracting state by a person habitually resident in the recipient state, the state of origin must determine that the child is capable of being adopted.
The determination must be made by an appropriate authority regarding the suitability for adoption. It must determine that the adoption is in the best interest of the child. All requisite consents are required. The child’s consent may be required.
The best interests of the child are to be the primary consideration in inter-country adoptions. Children may be only adopted from other countries which have ratified the Convention or with which Ireland has a direct agreement.
The recipient state must determine the suitability of the parents. Counselling may be required. The child must be permitted to enter and reside permanently in the recipient state.
The child must be placed. Placements are regulated. The state of origin must procure that the candidate’s parents agree to the placement. The recipient state must approve it and both states must agree that it may proceed.
The adopters must be eligible and suitable. The child must be permitted to enter and permanently reside in the recipient state. The child may not travel until the conditions have been met.
The parties must be advised of the effect of their consent. In particular, they must be counselled and advised as to the nature of the termination of the existing legal relationship and the substitution of the adopting parents as legal parents.
There are provisions restricting contact between natural parents and the child. There are provisions for retaining information regarding the child’s origin and natural parents, together with medical records. The child may have access to such information, subject to the provisions of the law of the state.
An adoption certified by the authority of the state of adoption as having been made under the Convention is recognised in other contracting states to the Conventions. Recognition may only be refused if such would be manifested contrary to the public policy of the state concerned.
Recognition creates a legal parent-child relationship between the adopting parents and the child so that they assume parental rights and obligations in relation to the child. The existing relationship with the natural parents is terminated.
The child must enjoy, in the recipient state, rights equivalent to those under a domestic adoption. The law of the recipient state may terminate the rights of the natural parent, even if the state of origin does not have an equivalent provision under its adoption laws for such conversion of status.
The Adoption Authority is the central authority in Ireland under the convention. The Authority makes declarations of eligibility and suitability. It makes decisions in relation to outward adoption and has a role in relation to inward adoption.
It makes adoption orders in respect of children coming in from other states. It may make an order to convert an adoption that does not have the effect of terminating the relationship of the natural parent and child into one that does have that effect.
The Authority is the competent party for certifying adoptions in the state in accordance with any bilateral agreement and conversion of adoptions recognised in other states which are party to the bilateral agreement.
Provision is made for a High Court order to dispense with consents which have not been given. It may authorise the Authority to dispense with consent.