Siblings left in ‘legal limbo’ by adoption ruling

Two children have been left in “a legal limbo” because the Adoption Authority of Ireland refuses to recognise their overseas adoption by an Irish-based couple, the High Court has heard.

The couple are both Irish citizens. The wife is the children’s biological aunt. They have launched a High Court action aimed overturning the authority’s decision that the children, a boy and a girl, are not eligible for adoption.

The parties involved in the case cannot be identified for legal reasons. In an affidavit to the court, the husband said he found the decision “difficult to comprehend”.

Yesterday, Peter Finlay, SC for the family, said the children have been left in “a legal limbo”. This is because of the authority does not recognise the adoption that was registered in the children’s native country. In addition, the authority also deems the children are not eligible for adoption by the couple.

The court heard the children came to Ireland two years ago after their aunt’s application to adopt them was formally completed in their home country. The couple then engaged with the Adoption Authority and the Child and Family Agency in order to apply for a domestic adoption in Ireland.

Guidance was sought by the couple from State bodies in relation to their application. After obtaining legal advice and engaging in lengthy correspondence with State bodies, the couple was told last December the children did not comply with criteria set down in the 2010 Adoption Act and were not eligible to be adopted.

However, Mr Finlay says the decision is flawed, and should be quashed.

The letter from the Authority telling the couple the children could not be adopted contained factual errors, including the couple’s marital status and the children’s country of origin, and that the authority misdirected itself in law. Irrelevant factors were also taken into consideration.

In addition, counsel said the authority had failed to provide proper or adequate reasons for its decision. It indicated a rigid or blanket application of policy without proper consideration of the particular facts of the matter.

In their action, the couple and the two children seek orders quashing the Authority’ decisions, made earlier his year, that the two children are not eligible to be adopted in accordance with the 2010 Adoption Act.

They also seek declarations including that there is no lawful impediment under the 2010 Adoption Act to an adoption order being made in relation to the two children.

They further seek an order that the Authority, in deciding that the two children cannot be adopted, erred in law, and acted unreasonably, unfairly and oppressively. It is also claimed the decision breaches the parties constitutional rights and rights under the European Convention of Human Rights.

Permission to bring the action was granted yesterday by Mr Justice Michael Peart. The case will come before the court again in early June.

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