Authority grants adoption orders over Zoom during Covid lockdown

Authority grants adoption orders over Zoom during Covid lockdown
More than 20 adoption orders were granted over Zoom during lockdown, the Adoption Authority said. File Picture.

There were 560 applications received last year by the voluntary register that facilitates contact between adopted persons and birth relatives.

The Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) maintains the National Adoption Contact Preference Register (NACPR) that received 5,060 applications when it was established in 2005.

There were 115 cases last year where a potential match was identified between the new applicants and family members who had previously joined the register.

At the end of last year, there were approximately 14,600 entries on the NACPR with over 1,200 potential matches.

The figures were included in the AAI annual report for 2019. Launching the report, AAI chief executive, Patricia Carey, said Covid-19 had not affected their work and they had been fully operational throughout the public health emergency.

The authority conducted remote hearings and granted over 20 adoptions orders via the Zoom app and was "very proud" of their achievement as a public service body.

Ms Carey, speaking on RTÉ radio, said families who could not travel because of the pandemic were delighted their children were not going to miss out on an opportunity to be adopted.

The annual report shows that the number of adoptees registered on the NACPR since 2005 is about 10,100 (69%) and the number of relatives is about 4,500 (31%).

The number of NACPR applications was 1,046 in 2006 and dropped to 538 in 2016.

In 2018, the register received 639 applications when a potential match was identified between 105 applicants and family members who previously joined the register.

Last year, 398 of the applicants were adoptees, 54 were birth mothers, 14 were birth fathers, and 61 were siblings.

There were 71 requests from adopted persons for the release of their birth certificates and, over the year, 37 certificates were released, compared to 43 in 2018.

Nine requests for birth certificates were refused compared to six in 2018. Some of the birth certificates released and six of the requests refused related to requests made before 2018.

There were 79 domestic adoption orders granted last year and the majority (51) were made in step-family adoptions. 

Changes in the law since 2017 allow a step-parent to adopt their partner's child while their partner retains their parental rights.

Of the adoption orders made in 2019, 21 were in respect of children who were in long-term foster care.

Six of the orders related to infants placed for adoption in Ireland and one was where the child was in the care of extended family members.

Last year, eight applications were made to the high court to allow an adoption application to proceed without consultation with the birth farther and all were granted.

In one of the applications, an order was made by the court in circumstances where it was deemed inappropriate to notify and consult with the father. The remaining seven orders were made in circumstances where the identity of the birth father was unknown.

Legal adoption was first introduced in Ireland under the 1952 Adoption Act that was enacted in 1953 and the Adoption Board was established under the act.

Last year, the AAI recognised 33 inter-country adoptions, with the majority (18) from Vietnam. There were 10 from the US and three from China.

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