The consultation, which is open until June 7th, was launched this morning at a special policy forum convened by Minister Katherine Zappone and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
Many countries across Europe have a system of open or semi-open adoption. However, Ireland has only ever allowed for closed adoption, in which there are no formal or recognised ongoing connections between a new adoptive family, a birth parent and a child who is adopted. Open and semi-open adoptions can allow for greater transparency and exchange of information, including health information, access to the original birth certificate, and even structured communication or regular contact with members of the birth family where this is in the best interests of the child. Speaking about the consultation Senator Alice-Mary Higgins said “Open adoption, which is an option in many European countries, can, I believe, allow for more honest and compassionate recognition of the complexity of some family situations. The current closed adoption system, which assumes a complete severing of connection or communication with a birth family, can often increase distress or difficulty for those involved in an adoption process, most importantly the child."
“Open adoption could, for example, make it easier for a child to maintain connections with a birth grandparent who may not be in a position to become a primary carer, yet nonetheless have an important ongoing contribution to make to that child’s wellbeing. It is important to remember also that one of the rights enshrined by the referendum on the Rights of the Child is the child’s right to identity.”
“Many adoptive families do put in place informal arrangements regarding contact with a birth family, where they believe it is in the best interest of the child. However, such arrangements are not officially recognised or supported and there are no good practice guidelines. An open or semi-open option could ensure that everyone gets the post-adoption supports they need.”
Concluding, Senator Higgins stated “I welcome Minister Zappone’s announcement of this public consultation and strongly urge everyone affected by or interested in this important issue to make their perspectives heard.”
Link to Consultation: https://dcya.fs.ie/