Ireland’s adoption laws are about to change for the better. From October 19, unmarried gay and heterosexual couples will now be able to adopt.
Couples who have been living together for three years will be allowed to adopt a child.
The law is a momentous step for Ireland. Until now, a couple had to be married for at least a year if they wanted to adopt.
The starting order for the provisions of the Adoption Amendment Act 2017 was signed by Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone.
Numerous changes will be made to the Adoption Act 2010.
Couples will be able to adopt together rather than as single individuals.
The new laws will also have an impact on step-parents. Before this amendment, mothers would have to adopt their own children, if they got married again.
Children in foster care will also benefit from the Adoption Amendment Act 2017. It is understood that it will take less time for families to adopt their foster kids.
To be adopted, children must be under the age of 18.
Patricia Carey, from Adoption Authority of Ireland, spoke to The Independent, saying: "It is a good benchmark that people can then apply.”
She continued, “It only means they can apply to adopt - they have to get a rigorous assessment. It opens up new types of families, and we're really looking for parents for children - not children for parents.”
She also stressed the importance of the child’s rights, “The best interests of the child are recognised as the most important consideration in any adoption application.”
The amendment takes note of the child’s welfare and looks closely at how adoption will affect their lives, “There is a detailed list of considerations in the amendment to be applied when judging the best interests of the child. The child's own opinion is very important."
The new law is aimed at increasing the number of children who are adopted in Ireland.
Most of the children adopted by Irish couples are originally from the United States, China, India and Vietnam.
Earlier this year, a report stated that the number of inter-country adoptions had fallen rapidly.
It is believed that in 2016, there was an average of five adoption approvals issued each month. In 2008, this figure stood at 33 per month.
The figures around the world have been plummeting. There were 45,000 approved inter-country adoptions in 2004; this figure fell to 13,000 in 2014.
We hope the new laws will help increase the approved adoption figures in Ireland.