The Adoption Policy Unit develops policies and legislation in order to achieve better outcomes for children, young people, and their families, in relation to adoption.
The work of Adoption Policy Unit is underpinned by the Adoption Act 2010, which was commenced on 1 November 2010.
The commencement of the Act coincided with Ireland's ratification of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption.
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs announced in May 2018 that clear evidence of illegal registration had been uncovered in records from St. Patrick's Guild former adoption agency.
Identification was possible because of a marker placed on some files specifying "adopted from birth." While the practice of incorrect registrations has been extremely difficult to prove in most instances owing to the deliberate failure of those involved to record any information about it, the label in SPG records has made it possible to identify possible cases and to pursue them further.
Following the discovery of clear evidence of illegal registration in the St. Patrick's Guild records, the Minister directed that an analysis of adoption records be carried out to establish whether there is sufficient reliable evidence of the practice of illegal registration that can be extracted from the records of adoption agencies.
There are an estimated 150,000 adoption records in existence and, of these, approximately 100,000 are currently in the custody of the State, for example in the possession of either Tusla, the Child and Family Agency or the Adoption Authority of Ireland .
The review is focused on those records in the custody of the State and a targeted sampling exercise in being carried out in the first instance owing to the volume of records involved.
This targeted review will help to establish the extent of usable information that can be found in these historical records. The review will provide information to assist the Minister in identifying more fully the scale of illegal birth registrations and in identifying any necessary next steps.
The Terms of Reference of the review and the Chair's three interim reports are below:
Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill
The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill was published on the 25th November 2016. The Bill passed second stage in the Seanad on 17th May 2017.
The main purpose of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 is to provide for a scheme whereby adoption information, including information required to obtain a birth certificate, may be provided to an adopted person subject to certain conditions.
The Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017
This legislation is arising from the Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Act 2012 which was signed into law on 28 April 2015. The main purpose of The Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017 is to amend the Adoption Act 2010 to provide for:
This Act also amends the Adoption Act 2010 to reflect the adoption provisions provided for in the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 as well as provide for sole step-parent adoption.
The Act was signed into law on the 19th July 2017 and was commenced on the 19th October 2017.
Under the Act the Department committed to undertaking a Review and Consultation in respect of the Potential Introduction of Open or Semi-Open Adoption in Ireland.