Let’s start from the very beginning. Although I doubt the Von Trapp family had to worry about adoption papers.
When I realized that I was pregnant, I was unsure as to who the biological father was. My future husband decided that although there was a possibility that he and the child were not biologically linked, he would be active in raising the child regardless. The other party informed me when I was twelve weeks pregnant that he did not want any involvement in the child’s life, even if he was the biological father. When, at three months old, we confirmed through a DNA test that my husband was not the biological father of my child, we were shocked(an understatement). But the love he had for our child never changed or diminished. We both adored him and had committed to caring for him. The biological father was informed of the DNA test result but never returned contact.
In trying to deal with a surprise baby, a renewed relationship, our first living arrangement and grasping life as young parents it took a long time for us to really consider the implications our situation would have on our family. It wasn’t until my son’s second birthday that I began to research where we stood legally. The law is blurred for unmarried parents, even more so when the father is not biologically linked to the child. Finding so little information specific to our case, we contacted a solicitor. In order to ensure our son’s safety and well being, we had only one available option; step parent adoption.
Luckily we had gotten married earlier that year, otherwise we would not have been eligible to adopt him. We rang the HSE who informed us that in order to apply we had to attend an information evening, which wasn’t for another two months. We had to attend as part of a group, in our local town. We had to put our confidentiality and our son’s confidentiality aside to merely obtain information.
When we arrived, we were bowled over by the task that lay ahead. The forms, the procedures, the social work visits. The fact that stung every couple in the room was that regardless of the biological father’s involvement in the child’s life, he had to be contacted and informed of the adoption. If he was a guardian of the child, he had to give permission. If he wasn’t a guardian, as is our case, he still needed to be notified. He had a right to object and halt proceedings. There were mothers in the room who had had restraining orders in place against their former partners because of violence and aggression, but they still needed the biological father’s permission. We asked if we could pick up an adoption application pack. They said that we had to request it in writing.
It was another three weeks before we received the forms that we needed.