Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Questions (112)

Shane Ross

Question:

112. Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of domestic infant adoptions that took place here in 2012 and 2013. [20870/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The Adoption Authority of Ireland has advised that in 2012 there were no domestic infant adoptions in Ireland and in 2013 there were 3. For the purposes of this question the Authority has defined infants as children under 2 years of age.

These relatively low figures for domestic adoption of Irish children reflect the development of social attitudes which have seen historically high rates of domestic adoption, particularly in respect of children of single mothers, diminish as greater public and social support for natural mothers has developed in recent decades.

However, current restrictions on children who can be subject to domestic adoption are also considered to inappropriately limit access by some children in the long term care of the Child and Family Agency to the opportunity provided by adoption. This was amongst the issues which the proposed wording of the Constitutional Amendment on Children sought to resolve. The wording sought to explicitly provide in certain circumstances for the adoption of any child either by way of voluntary placement by parents or where parents have failed in their duties for such a period of time as may be prescribed by law.

To coincide with the holding of the Children's Referendum the Government published a draft Adoption ( Amendment) Bill 2012 so as to outline its legislative proposals in the event of the proposed Constitutional Amendment being introduced.

The Adoption (Amendment) Bill aims to provide, in a more effective and appropriate way, for the adoption of children of marriage. The Adoption (Amendment) Bill proposes to make important changes to adoption law to provide the option of adoption for a child who has been placed in long term foster care because his or her parents are unable to provide, or resume, care for that child. The provisions of the proposed Adoption (Amendment) Bill would amend the Adoption Act 2010 to provide for the non-voluntary adoption of a child where his or her parents have failed in their duty towards that child.

The proposed legislation is not intended to provide that a child, who has contact with and a strong beneficial relationship with his or her birth parents and wider family, may be adopted unless that child's parents have voluntarily placed the child for adoption and have consented to the adoption order being made in respect of the child. The draft Bill will also provide for the voluntary placement for adoption of any child irrespective of the marital status of his or her parents. In the case of a child of married parents, both parents must place the child for adoption and before doing so, will be counselled and given information in accordance with the provisions of section 14 of the Adoption Act 2010.

It is my intention to bring the Bill before the Houses of the Oireachtas as soon as possible, following conclusion of all proceedings and processes relevant to the Children’s Referendum.