Ireland is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore, when the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008, intercountry adoption processing for Ireland did not change. (Note: Ireland signed the Hague Adoption Convention but has not yet concluded legislation to facilitate its ratification.)
Ireland is not considered a country of origin in intercountry adoption. There are few children eligible for adoption in Ireland, with a long waiting list of Irish prospective adoptive parents. Most intercountry adoptions in Ireland are by legal residents of Ireland who adopt in third countries.
Only four Irish orphans have received U.S. immigrant visas in the past five fiscal years. The information provided is intended primarily to assist in rare adoption cases from Ireland, including adoptions of Irish children by relatives in the United States, as well as adoptions from third countries by Americans living in Ireland.
WHO CAN ADOPT
To bring an adopted child to United States from Ireland, you must be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Ireland also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: You must be ordinarily resident in Ireland and must have resided in Ireland for at least one year before the date of the making of the Adoption Order.
AGE REQUIREMENTS: There is also a minimum age limit for adoption. You must be at least 21 years of age if the child is not a relative. If the child is to be adopted by the natural father or mother, or a relative of the child, only one of you must have attained the age of 21.
MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: In order to be eligible to adopt you must fall into one of the following categories:
You are a married couple living together. This is the only circumstance where the law permits the adoption of a child by more than one person;
You are a married person living alone. In this circumstance the spouse's consent to the adoption must be obtained, unless they are living apart and are separated under (i) a court decree, (ii) a deed of separation, (iii) the spouse has deserted the prospective adopter or (iv) conduct on the part of the spouse results in the prospective adopter, with just cause, leaving the spouse and living apart;
You are the mother, father or a relative of the child (relative meaning a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt of the child and/or the spouse of any such person, the relationship to the child being traced through the mother or the father);
You are a widow/widower;
You are a sole applicant not covered in any of the categories above where the Adoption Board is satisfied that, in the particular circumstances of the case, it is desirable to grant an order.
RELIGIOUS REQUIREMENTS: If the adopting parents, child and birth parent(s) are not all of the same religion, the birth parent(s) must know the religion (if any) of each of the adopting parents when giving consent to the child’s adoption. The identity of the adoptive parents need not be disclosed to the biological parents, merely their religious preference.
SUITABILITY: Suitability assessments may only be carried out by a Health Board or Registered Adoption Society. Your suitability will be assessed with regard to the following standards:
The capacity to safeguard the child throughout his or her childhood;
The capacity to provide the child with family life that will promote his or her development and well being and have due regard to the physical, emotional, social, health, educational, cultural, spiritual and other dimensions. The resources that families can draw on will vary from family to family and may change over time. Whatever circumstances the family finds itself in, the applicant/s will be able to demonstrate their understanding of the importance of maintaining an on-going and meaningful relationship with their child;
The capacity to provide an environment where the child's original nationality, race, culture, language and religion will be valued and appropriately promoted throughout childhood. This will include the capacity of the parent/s to recognize the differences between themselves and their child within these areas and to recognize and try to combat racism and other institutional and personal oppressive forces within society;
The capacity to recognize and understand the impact of being an adopted child from an overseas country on the development of the child's identity throughout his or her childhood and beyond;
The capacity to recognize the need for and to arrange for appropriate support and intervention from health, social services, educational, and other services throughout childhood.
WHO CAN BE ADOPTED
Ireland has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption. You cannot adopt a child in Ireland unless he or she meets the requirements outlined below.
In addition to these requirements, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law for you to bring him or her back to the United States. Learn more about these U.S. requirements.
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR CHILDREN:
Relinquishment/Abandonment Requirements: Irish law permits the adoption of:
children born outside marriage, including in certain circumstances, children whose biological parents subsequently marry each other.
In addition, in exceptional cases, the High Court may make orders authorizing the adoption of children whose parents have failed in their duty of care towards them, including children born within marriage.
A child born outside marriage who is legitimated by the subsequent marriage of the biological parents is eligible for adoption provided his/her birth has not been re-registered. A child born to a married woman but whose husband is not the father, is eligible for adoption provided the facts of the child's paternity can be proven to the satisfaction of the Adoption Board. The child must reside in Ireland, be at least six weeks old and under 18 years of age. The child need not have been born in Ireland.
Age Requirement: An agency cannot place a child for adoption until the child is at least four weeks old.It is also important to note that there are two types of adoptions in Ireland:
- 1. Family Adoption
Family adoption includes step-parent adoption, where the husband/wife of the child’s parent wishes to adopt that child and relative adoption, where the mother, father or a relative of the child requests to adopt. A relative is defined as a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt of the child and/or the spouse of any such person, the relationship to the child being traced through the mother or the father.
- 2. Non-Family Adoptions
Non-relative adoptions are applications made on behalf of children placed by Health Boards and registered adoption societies. Usually, these Adoption Orders are made with the consent of the birth mother. Under Irish law an adoption order can be made only in respect of a child:
• who is an orphan or
• whose parents are not married to each other, or
• whose parents married each other after the child's birth but whose birth has not been re-registered and where the child's mother or guardian or any person having control over him/her consents to the adoption. The consent to the adoption must be given on the prescribed forms.
In a small number of cases, where consent is not forthcoming, a number of cases proceed to the High Court to allow the Adoption Board to make an order.
HOW TO ADOPT
Ireland’s Adoption Authority
Adoption in Ireland is regulated by the Adoption Board / Authority which is an independent quasi judicial statutory body appointed by the Irish government. Adoptions in Ireland commenced on the 1 January 1953 with the enactment of the 1952 Adoption Act
The process for adopting a child from Ireland generally includes the following steps:
Choose an Adoption Service Provider
Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
Be Matched with a Child
Adopt the Child in Ireland
Apply for the Child to be found Eligible for Adoption
Bring Your Child Home home
1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
The first step in adopting a child from Ireland is usually to select a licensed agency in the United States that can help with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. Learn more about choosing the right adoption service provider.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
To bring an adopted child from Ireland to the United States, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-600A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.
In addition to meeting the U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, you need to meet the requirements of Ireland as described in the Who Can Adopt section.
3. Be Matched with a Child
If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Ireland will provide you with a referral to a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of a particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Ireland’s requirements, as described in the Who Can be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law. Learn more
4. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Ireland
To complete an adoption or to gain legal custody in Ireland, you will be working with the following agencies to complete the required steps.
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The Adoption Board has the sole right to grant or refuse to grant adoption orders. It is responsible for registering and supervising the Registered Adoption Societies and for maintaining the Adoption Societies Register. It is also responsible for granting declarations of eligibility and suitability to prospective adoptive parents in advance of their adopting abroad and for maintaining the Register of Foreign Adoptions in which details of intercountry adoptions are entered.
- ROLE OF ADOPTION SERVICE PROVIDERS: Only the Registered Adoption Societies and the Health Boards are legally entitled to assess the prospective parents for their suitability as parents and to place children for adoption. There is no Irish government-approved attorney or firm of attorneys. The list of these approved adoption service providers can be found at: http://www.adoptionboard.ie/domestic/supportgroups.php.
- ADOPTION APPLICATION: A couple seeking permission to adopt will have to undergo a detailed assessment by either the Registered Adoption Society or the Health Board (not the Adoption Board) through which they have chosen to apply. The purpose of this assessment is to establish the couple’s suitability as prospective adoptive parents. The assessment will be carried out by one of the agency’s social workers and will include a number of joint and individual interviews and visits to the couple’s home. The social worker will ask about the couple’s relationship, their motives for adoption, and their expectations of how they will be impacted emotionally by an adoption. The couple will also need to undergo a medical examination.
NOTE: Very few children are placed for adoption in Ireland each year. As there are far more couples wanting to adopt than there are children available for adoption, not every couple who applies to an adoption agency and successfully passes the assessment will be successful in locating a child to adopt in Ireland.
- DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: If prospective adoptive parents pass this assessment and succeed in having a child placed with them, they may then apply to the Adoption Board for an Adoption Order, which places the child in the permanent care of the adoptive parents. Certain documents specified by the Adoption Board must be sent to the Board in support of the application, typically marriage certificates, birth certificates, etc.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested.
- ADOPTION ORDER: The Adoption Board cannot make an Adoption Order unless it is satisfied as to the suitability of the prospective adoptive parents. On receipt of an application for an Adoption Order, the Board assigns one of its social workers to the application. The social worker will normally make at least two visits to the applicant’s home. This second set of home visits is completely separate from those initially conducted by either the Adoption Society or Health Board.
When the Adoption Board is satisfied that an adoption is ready to be finalized, it will invite the prospective adoptive parents and child to attend the hearing of their application. At the hearing, the applicants are asked certain questions under oath in order to establish their identity and eligibility to adopt. If these questions are answered to the satisfaction of the Board, the Board then makes an Adoption Order for the child.
An Adoption Order secures in law the position of the child in the prospective adoptive family. On the making of the Adoption Order the biological parent(s) lose(s) all legal rights over the child and is freed from all duties. These rights and duties are transferred to the prospective adoptive parents. The child is then regarded in law as the child of the adoptive parents as if he/she were born to them in marriage.
- TIME FRAME: It can take approximately 12 to 15 months from the start of the process until the child is matched with prospective adoptive parents.. The Adoption Board does not usually issue an Adoption Order to finalize an adoption until the adopting parents have had the child in their care for at least six months. The Board may require the applicants to have the child in their care for a longer period in certain circumstances.
Attorney fees: Vary depending on the firm and the complexity of the case
Adoption Agency fees: No fees
Health Board fees: No fees
Adoption Board fees: No fees
Estimated average cost to parents of adoption in Ireland: No maximum
5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Ireland, the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) MUST determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted (Form I-600). Learn how.
6. Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate. This is done through the General Register Office. Contact details for the General Register Office are as follows:
General Register Office
Tel: Direct Dial: 090 6632900
LoCall: 1890 252076 Fax: 090 6632999
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Ireland. Parents wishing to apply for an Irish passport for their child should contact the passport office of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs for information. Contact details are as follows:
Tel. +353 1 671 1633 or LoCall 1890 426 888
Fax.+353 1 6711092
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an immigrant visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S. Embassy for final review and approval of the child’s I-600 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the “Panel Physician’s” medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Learn more.
Please visit the website of the U.S. Embassy in Dublin for more details on applying for an immigrant visa.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States as a lawful permanent resident.
For adoptions finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when the court in the United States issues the final adoption decree.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Ireland. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.
Obtaining Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
To find information about obtaining a visa for Ireland, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.
The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there’s a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Ireland, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
What does Ireland require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
Irish law requires that social workers visit the family after the placement of the child with that family. There is no requirement that local authorities visit and/or report on the family once the Adoption has been finalized.
We strongly urge you to comply with the requirements of Ireland and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country’s history of positive experiences with American parents.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it’s another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here is a good place to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.