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Intercountry Adoption

The Adoption Act 2010 commenced on 1st November 2010. This coincided with Ireland's formal ratification of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The Adoption Authority was also established on that day. The purpose of the Adoption Act, 2010, is to improve standards in both domestic and intercountry adoption. The regulatory framework governing adoption has been strengthened in an attempt to ensure that the best interests of children are protected at every step throughout the adoption process. With effect from 1 November 2010 inter-country adoptions can be effected with other countries which have ratified the Hague Convention or with which Ireland has a bilateral 

From the 1st November 2010 anyone wishing to effect an adoption from a Hague country must be satisfied that the adoption is in compliance with the rules set out in the Hague Convention. The key rules to be adhered to are:

1. the adoption must comply with all the terms and conditions of the Hague Convention 
2. the agent/agency handling the adoption is properly accredited by the Central Authority of the sending State 
3. the agent/agency can produce a valid Article 23 Certificate from a competent authority of the sending State in respect of the adoption

The Hague Convention website ( has details of the Convention and a list of the Central Authorities, the Accredited Bodies and the Competent Authorities in each country.

Intercountry Adoption

Who Can Adopt?

Persons resident in Ireland who wish to adopt a child abroad; in order to do so, these persons are required to have their eligibility and suitability established by their local Health Board / Registered Adoption Society in the first instance.


The eligibility criteria for adoption are provided for under the Adoption Acts 1952-2010. In order to be eligible to adopt you must fall into one of the following categories:

  • You are a married couple living together. This is the only circumstance where the law permits the adoption of a child by more than one person;
  • You are a married person living alone. In this circumstance the spouse's consent to the adoption must be obtained, unless they are living apart and are separated under (i) a court decree, (ii) a deed of separation, (iii) the spouse has deserted the prospective adopter or (iv) conduct on the part of the spouse results in the prospective adopter, with just cause, leaving the spouse and living apart;
  • You are the mother, father or a relative of the child (relative meaning a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt of the child and/or the spouse of any such person, the relationship to the child being traced through the mother or the father);
  • You are a widow/widower;
  • You are a sole applicant not covered in any of the categories above and the Adoption Authority of Ireland is satisfied that, in the particular circumstances of the case, it is desirable to grant an order.

There is also a minimum age limit for adoption. You must be at least 21 years of age if the child is not a relative. If the child is to be adopted by the natural father or mother, or a relative of the child, only one of you must have attained the age of 21.

As regards residency, you must be ordinarily resident in the State and must have resided in the State for at least one year before the date of the making of the Adoption Order.



Suitability assessments may only be carried out by the HSE / Registered Adoption Society. A regional adoption service of the HSE must carry out assessments for persons ordinarily resident in its functional area. Registered Adoption Societies may carry out assessments on behalf of the HSE or at the request of those wishing to adopt abroad but are not obliged to do so.

In assessing your suitability regard shall be had to the following standards:

The capacity to safeguard the child throughout his or her childhood;
The capacity to provide the child with family life that will promote his or her development and well being and have due regard to the physical, emotional, social, health, educational, cultural, spiritual and other dimensions. The resources that families can draw on will vary from family to family and may change over time. Whatever circumstances the family find themselves in, the applicant/s will be able to demonstrate their understanding of the importance of maintaining an on-going and meaningful relationship with their child;
The capacity to provide an environment where the child's original nationality, race, culture, language and religion will be valued and appropriately promoted throughout childhood. This will include the capacity of the parent/s to recognise the differences between themselves and their child within these areas and to recognise and try to combat racism and other institutional and personal oppressive forces within society;
The capacity to recognise and understand the impact of being an adopted child from an overseas country on the development of the child's identity throughout their childhood and beyond;
The capacity to recognise the need for and to arrange for appropriate support and intervention from health, social services, educational, and other services throughout childhood.


Notary Services

When you have received your dossier pack of original documentation in full, including (but not limited to) the Declaration of Inter-Country Adoptions, Foreign Adoption Dossier - NotarisationEligibility, the Suitability for adoption, the Garda Clearance Certificates, Birth Certificates, Passports, Marraige Certificate and the Immigration certificate you can then telephone and make an appointment with a notary public to have your dossier pack notarised.

It will be necessary for you to attend with the notary public with original passports and all original documents. You should not sign any documents until you attend the Notary Public and both applicants need to be present.  It is usually 24-48 hours turnaround for the adoption dossiers to be completed and notarized in full.  However, we understand the stress in preparing the dossier so we will attempt to complete the work even sooner if the same is more urgent.