If you are currently in the process of step parent adoption in Ireland, you might be getting frustrated while trying to find the information you need for your application. This page offers some leads on what we spend hours looking for while completing various parts of the application. The list is not exhaustive. If you have any tips yourself please send them on to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. INFORMATION EVENING
If you’re considering step parent adoption, you must attend an information evening first. This is held by your regional adoption team who is part of the HSE. If you call them they can put your name down for the next available session.
2. CHILD’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE
If the non-biological father’s name is on the birth certificate and you choose to proceed with stepparent adoption, the adoption board will not proceed with your application unless his name is removed. You don’t need to put the biological father’s name down; it can be left blank. If the child’s surname is the same as your husbands, it will have to be changed to the mother’s surname at the time of the birth. Changing the birth certificate took us a long time so I would advise acting as soon as possible if necessary. You have to request the change in writing and they will then send you the relevant forms. More information here
3. POLICE CLEARANCE FOR FOREIGN COUNTRIES
We spent hours trying to get police clearance for countries we lived in as children. Turns out you don’t actually need it unless you lived there aged sixteen years or over. It does not state this on any part of the adoption application form.
If it is for the UK, you need to send a DAT1 form to the local police station where you lived.
4.FOREIGN CHILD PROTECTION CLEARANCE
You do need child protection clearance for every country you have inhabited(for six months or more), regardless of what age you were while living there. Finding this was incredibly frustrating and it took us many phone calls to secure the information we needed. It varies place to place, but call the adoption team you are dealing with if you are getting nowhere with your search. After a day of making long distance phone calls I rang our adoption team looking for advice. They had already dealt with an applicant from the same area so they had the information that we needed.
There is also a department of the HSE based in Limerick called the International Social Services, and they may liaise with a country on your behalf to get the documents you need depending on what they are.
5. NOTIFYING THE BIRTH FATHER
Regardless of the biological father’s absence or lack of involvement, they need to be notified by law that the adoption is taking place. The adoption team need to show that they made every effort to locate the person and provide them with this notice. We were told that this can take over a year without the assistance of the applicants. If you can, have the information readily available so you can speed up a lengthy process.
6. PROOF OF PARENTAGE
We were informed by a solicitor that even though my husband’s name was on the birth certificate, I could still be taken to court at any time by the biological father before stepparent adoption. The court can order that I do a DNA test to prove his parentage and he could then apply for access. Simply stating the non-biological father as being the father on the birth certificate does not transfer any parental rights or responsibilities; you must adopt the child together.
7. DELAYS WITH YOUR APPLICATION
If you are experiencing delays with your application, complain. We managed to move along our process by writing a letter of complaint and meeting with our local officer. You can ask to be referred to an independent agency and this could shorten your waiting time. Assert your right to information about your application and what other options are potentially open for you.
8. PANEL HEARING
When you have completed your visits with a social worker, a panel hearing will commence to discuss your application. At this hearing a decision will be made whether or not to recommend the adoption to the AA. You have the right to be present for this meeting if you wish to do so.