Couple ordered to pay maintenance for abandoned child Tristan

A four-year-old Indonesian child abandoned by his adoptive parents is to receive monthly maintenance payments from them and compensation of €45,000, it emerged today.

Tristan Dowse was adopted in 2001 at the age of two months by Joe Dowse, an accountant from Wicklow, and his Azerbaijan-born wife. The couple returned the boy to an orphanage in Jakarta two years later on the grounds that the adoption was not working out.

At the High Court in Dublin, Judge John MacMenamin said the couple had failed in their duty under the Constitution to provide and care for their son, Tristan.

He ordered that Tristan’s adoption should be struck off the Register of Foreign Adoptions held by the Irish Adoption Board and that Suryani, his natural mother, should be appointed his sole legal guardian.

He ordered the Dowses to pay an immediate lump sum of €20,000 to Tristan and a further lump sum of €25,000 when he reached the age of 18.

The couple will also have to pay maintenance of €350 per month until he is 18 years of age. Judge MacMenamin ordered that Tristan be made a ward of court, should remain an Irish citizen and enjoy all the rights to the estate of the Dowses as if he had remained their lawful child.

In his judgement on the case, Judge MacMenamin recounted how Tristan only spoke English when he was placed back in the orphanage by the Dowses and cried constantly. The judge referred to a form signed by the Dowses at the time of the original adoption in which they wrote that they wished to raise Tristan as if he was their own flesh and blood.

“What occurred is difficult to reconcile with that statement. It is hard to conceive the effect which these traumatic changes must have had on the young child,” said Judge MacMenamin.

He said the facts in the case were largely undisputed. “The court found that there was clearly a breach of the constitutional duty owed to Tristan by his parents,” he said.

He presided over two judgements in relation to the adoption and abandonment of Tristan, one between the attorney general and the Dowses and the other between the Dowses and the adoption board.

The Dowses were not present in court for the judgement but their family solicitor, Gus Cullen, said they were satisfied with the decision. He added that the couple would comply with the court’s order to provide for their son.

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