Bill to revise adoption law goes before the Dáil



Children's Minister Dr Katherine Zappone
Children’s Minister Dr Katherine Zappone

Legislation to revise adoption law in the wake of the children’s referendum in 2012 is the first bill to go before the 32nd Dáil.

The Adoption (Amendment) Bill 2016 has been presented by Children’s Minister Dr Katherine Zappone.

The bill had previously been published by Dr Zappone’s predecessor, the former Children’s Minister Dr James Reilly.

It provides for:

  • the adoption of any child, irrespective of the marital status of his or her parents, in circumstances where both parents have placed the child for adoption and where both parents consent to the making of the adoption order;
  • a change in the criteria under which the High Court may, in a case of parental failure, make an order authorising the adoption of a child without parental consent; and for
  • the best interests of the child to be the paramount consideration in relation to any adoption proceedings; and, in that regard for the views of the child to be ascertained by the Adoption Authority or by the court and for those views to be given due weight, having regard to the age and maturity of the child.

It also provides for the adoption of a child by his or her step parent without the requirement for the child’s other parent to adopt his or her own child. Previously, if a parent and a step parent wanted to adopt, both the parent and the step parent had to apply to adopt – the parent became an ‘adopting parent’. Under this bill, the parent will continue to be ‎a parent and the step parent will be an adoptive parent.

The bill also provides for couples who are civil partners or cohabitees to be eligible to apply to adopt a child. The relevant provisions are being brought forward into this Bill from the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015.

Dr Zappone said: “I am very pleased that the first piece of legislation to be brought before the 32nd Dáil gives legislative effect to the Children’s Referendum. This significant Bill allows for the adoption of any child and acknowledges the voice of the child in the adoption process. It provides for the views of the child to be ascertained by the Adoption Authority or by the court and for those views to be given due weight, having regard to the age and maturity of the child.”

She added: “Adoption is one of a range of measures that ensure that the welfare and protection of children is fully catered for in the Irish statute book. These amendments to the Adoption Act 2010 will provide clarity and coherence in our adoption legislation with the added benefit of providing for adoption law in Adoption Acts.”