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Adoption Act, 1988 (Ireland) Essay Sample

The first adoption Act in Ireland was passed in 1952. Adoption legislation was amended eight times in 63 years – 1964, 1976, 1988, 1991, 1998, 2010 and 2017. The following essay sample is written to discuss on Adoption Act of 1988 (Ireland), it’s various principles and adoption laws in Ireland.

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The introduction of Adoption Act 1988 can be traced  back to rather conflicting time, recommendation were made in the ‘Review of Adoption Services’ (1984). This stated that children’s eligibility for adoption should not be determined on the basis of the marital status of the parents. There should be a provision for adoption of children in exceptional circumstances, even if it is against the wishes of the birth parents and irrespective of marital status.

The situation of children in care in Ireland came into sharp relief when the Adoption Review 1984 came into existence. It identified many children who were in care for longer than 5 years, many of them came from marital families but had limited chance of being reunited with families.

It resulted in a situation where Irish policymakers were faced with an increasing members of children entering and staying in care. An increasing number of adoptive applicants who were unsuccessful in their quest to adopt and a decrease in number of children available for legal adoption. The UK and US influenced professionals and policy makers in Ireland to make changes in the adoption policy.

Extending Adoption Eligibility for children under Adoption Act 1988 (Ireland) 

This Adoption Act 1988 extended the eligibility categories of children who may be legally be adopted in strictly defined circumstances. For example – children of marriage, fondling, abandoned children and children in long term foster care where there has been no placement of the child for adoption at the time of reception into care of the child.

This Adoption Act 1988 also gave a father the right to petition for guardianship of an illegitimate child in cases where the mother refused to extend it to him. The mother was invariably given the privileged of characterizing the nature of this relationship. Despite of constant efforts to develop rights for fathers and make children’s welfare ‘a central concern in adoption, a mother centered philosophy of family pre dominated through the 1980s.

Implication of Adoption Act 1988 (Ireland) change from Private to Public adoption 

The adoption of child resident in Ireland is called domestic adoption but of the child is living abroad, the process is called inter country adoption.

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Adoption Act 1988 (Ireland) provides for the enactment of public adoption for the first time. Up to this all the domestic adoptions were considered private and consensual.

This Adoption Act 1988 of Ireland  also provided for children of marriage to be adopted, but only when the child is an orphan, or in circumstances in which the parents have been branded legally as failures.

Adoption eligibility for children was not considered for the married parents, even if they wished to consent to adoption. Increase in number of single unmarried parents continued to opt not to relinquish their children and if adoption was available to married parents, it is likely to become a trend.

The importance of state freeing children for adoption against parental wisher, and adoption of children of marriage were to become central almost 30 years later in Children’s Referendum 2012 and The Adoption Amendment Act 2017. From the late 1980s, adoption practice began to change as a part of the Irish society.

Basics of Adoption Law in Ireland 

  • Tusla (Child and Family Agency) is the competent authority for the assessment of domestic adoption which they can submit to the Adoption Authority of Ireland for review and approval.
  • An adoption order secures in law the position of the child in the adoptive family. The child is regarded in law as the child of the adoptive parents as if he or she born to them.
  • Adoption orders are made by the Adoption Authority of Ireland which was established in November 2010 under Adoption Act 2010. The Adoption Amendment Act 2017 changed some of the rules of adoption.
  • Under the Adoption Amendment Act 2017 all children are now considered equal in terms of their eligibility of adoption. The Act allows for children born to married parents to be adopted. It also allows for children who were previously adopted to be adopted again considering the best interests of the child.
  • A guardian is an adult who has legal rights and duties in relation to a child. The birth mother automatically becomes the child’s guardian. Father could become the guardian if he is married to the mother at the time of child birth, married the mother after the birth of the child or have obtained guardianship through court order or statutory declaration. The rights to guardianship of child is covered under the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964.

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Category and criteria of people who can adopt children in Ireland 

In order to adopt a child, you must be at least 21 years of age and resident in the state. Where a child is being adopted by a couple and one of them is the mother or father or a relative of the child, only one of them have reached the age of 21 years.

The following people that can adopt children are :-

  • A married couple living together.
  • A couple living together in a civil partnership.
  • A couple who have been cohabiting or living together in a relationship for a minimum of 3 years.
  • The mother, father or relative of the child (grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, relationship of child being traced through mother or father).
  • A sole applicant who is not in any of the categories listed above, may only adopt where Adoption Authority of Ireland is satisfied that, in the partial circumstances of the case, it is desirable.
  • There is no upper age limit for adopting parents.

Types of Domestic Adoption in Ireland 

There are four types of Domestic adoption in Ireland and they are :-

Step Parent Adoption

Under the Adoption Amendment Act 2017 a person can apply to adopt their partner’s child. Their partner can consent to the adoption and still keep their parental rights and responsibility to sharing them with their partner after the adoption order is made.

Extended Family Adoption

This type of adoption occurs where a member of the child’s family or a relative adopts the child. The child would have been placed with them by the birth mother or by Tusla Child care system

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Domestic Infant Adoption

It is where a child is placed with an alternative set of parents. Child may be placed with the couple by the Tusla adoption service or an accredited adoption agency.

Long term Foster Care Adoption

Foster care adoption occurs when a couple adopt a child who was originally placed with them in a foster care situation.

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The above essay sample is written on The Adoption Act 1988 and the various adoption laws associated with it. This sample could help the Law, Childcare development and QQI courses students to complete the assignments in their colleges.

This 1988 Adoption Act can be read in reference with the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964, Childcare Act 1991 and Children and Families Act 2014.

It can help the law students in their extensive legal research work and helps in understanding the legislation and policy framework of government which influences adoption in Ireland. Assignments based on childcare and welfare can also be referred from this sample.

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