The Adoption Bill was published on 23 January 2009 by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. The stated aim of the Bill is to consolidate and modify existing adoption legislation, as well as to give effect to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption 1993.
Although the Bill was not formally referred to the Ombudsman for Children’s Office for comment, the OCO prepared advice on the proposed legislation for the Minister’s consideration in accordance with section 7(4) of the Ombudsman for Children’s Act 2002, which provides that the Ombudsman may on her own initiative give advice to a Minister of Government on any matter relating to the rights and welfare of children, including the probable effect on children of any proposed legislation.
The OCO submitted its advice to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on the Adoption Bill in November 2009. In its submission, the OCO welcomed the direct incorporation of the Hague Convention into Irish law but pointed to a number of areas in which the Bill could be enhanced to better serve the interests of the children who will be affected by it. Furthermore it indicated how the Bill could ensure full compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international instruments relevant to the question of adoption. The specific issues addressed in the Ombudsman for Children’s advice on the Adoption Bill were: making the legislation fully child-centred; providing for the adoption of children of marital families; enhancing the provisions relating to consultation and consent to adoption; extending the eligibility criteria for prospective adopters; providing for open adoptions; guaranteeing the right of adopted people to information regarding their birth and origins; placing the operation of tracing services on a statutory basis; and providing for post-adoption services.