On 19th June 1996 Ireland signed the Hague Convention for Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The Adoption Act to enable ratification of the Convention came into force, on November 1st, 2010.

Under the Adoption Act, the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) became the Central Authority according to the Convention. The AAI is an independent judicial body, and is appointed by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, and is the competent body for issuing Declarations of Eligibility and Suitability, and of Article 17 approvals under Hague

Who can apply:

All applicants must meet a series of tests, which demonstrate their ability to provide a safe, secure and loving permanent home for a child in need of one. In the first instance all applicants must apply to the Health Services Executive (HSE) for an assessment and all assessed cases must be sent to the AAI with a recommendation, so the Authority can decide whether or not to grant the applicants a Declaration.

The following are the general criteria which determine whether applicants can apply:
Married couples, living together, are eligible to apply for adoption, as are single applicants. Unmarried couples cannot jointly apply for assessment, and cannot jointly adopt. In such a case, one person in an unmarried couple can apply to adopt as a sole adopter. Applicants must be habitually resident in Ireland, and have held such residency for at least 1 year. While all applicants for assessment must be at least 21 years of age, there is no upper age limit set.

The Adoption Process:
All applicants for intercountry adoption have to submit an application dossier, including medical and financial reports, as well as permissions for the assessing body to request police and child protection clearances.

Once the dossier is accepted, the applicants will be placed on a list for a preparation course, followed by an assessment. The preparation course consists of 3 full day, or 6 half-day seminars addressing a range of topics related to their forthcoming assessment, and the adoption of children from other Countries of Origin into Ireland.

After the completion of the preparation course, applicants must submit their "homework" based on a series of questions set within the preparation course. This homework, coupled with the original application dossier will provide the assigned social worker with a basis for conducting a series of 6 to 8 meetings with the applicants as part of their assessment.

The assessment will include a discussion with the applicants on the Country of Origin they would like to adopt from, and the profile of the child they wish to adopt.

Based on this series of meetings, the dossier and homework, the social worker will prepare an assessment report, with a recommendation as to the applicants' suitability. This recommendation will be sent to a local adoption committee, which will assess the report, and prepare a formal recommendation for submission to the AAI.

Only applicants who have been awarded a Declaration can apply to adopt abroad. The AAI has clearly indicated that all applications will have to follow the Hague process, and therefore all such applications must be transmitted through the AAI itself, or through a body to which it has delegated such a function.

All adoptions are also now subject to the Article 17 pre-approval process. This means that all referrals of children in favour of Irish applicants will need to be approved in advance by the AAI before the adoption can proceed. Once an Article 17 approval has been granted, the appropriate immigration permissions in respect of the child referred can be applied for.

Once an adoption is completed in the Country of Origin, the applicants must inform the HSE of the adoption within 3 months of their return to Ireland. In addition, they must apply to the AAI for registration of the adoption with 3 months of their arrival home. A failure to comply with either of these two requirements is an offense, and subject to a significant fine, or imprisonment on conviction.

Once the AAI is satisfied that the adoption was completed according to Hague, it will register the adoption, and issue a certified copy of the entry in the register. This document effectively allows the adoptive parents to apply for an Irish passport for the child, and also to access various services on behalf of the child. This also creates important rights for the child in respect of Irish law.



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Intercountry Adoption Council sessions

This section contains information on the referrals (proposals) made by the IAC. This is the body within the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice, which makes the referrals.

The little hand of our children - P. F. and L. C., Italy

And one day we met with these wonderful people, who worked with us from the very beginning, assisting us in our journey to parenthood.

They took us by the hand and led us with professionalism, honesty and serenity, but never forgetting to be good-hearted and affectionate.

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