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Adoption is the legal process by which a birth mother and/or guardian of the child loses all parental rights and is freed from all parental duties in respect of the child.  The adopted child is considered as the child of the adopter or adopters. 

The Adoption Act, 2010, which came into effect on the 1st November 2010, gives effect to the 1993 Convention and the Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoptions, signed at the Hague on the 29th May 1993, the primary objectives of which are:

  1. To establish safeguards to ensure that inter country adoption take place in the best interest of the child and with respect for his or her fundamental rights as recognised in international law;

  2. To establish a system of co-operation amongst Contracting States to ensure that those safeguards are respected and thereby prevent the abduction, the sale of or trafficking in children;

  3. To secure the recognition in contracting States of adoptions made in accordance with the Convention.

If the child being adopted is resident in Ireland, then the adoption is referred to as a domestic adoption.  A domestic adoption may be either:

A. Consensual:  where a child is adopted with the consent of a natural mother or guardian or person having charge or control over the child OR where the applicant is a step parent of the child, and the child has a home with the child’s parent and that step parent for a continuous period of not less than 2 years at the date of the application.          


B. Non-Consensual:  where the High Court may sanction the adoption in limited circumstances (see section 26(1)(a), section 26(1)(b), section 31 and section 54 of the Adoption Act, 2010). 

If the child being adopted is not resident in Ireland, then the adoption is referred to as an Intercountry adoption, of which there are a number of types:

  1. Intercountry adoptions effected in accordance with the Hague Convention;

  2. Intercountry adoptions effected pursuant to a bilateral agreement between Ireland and the state of origin of the child;

  3. Intercountry adoptions effected outside the State; and

  4. Intercountry adoptions effected under an arrangement with a non-contracting state referred to in Section 81.

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