Adoption Reforms To Be Put On Hold

The Government says it will not consider introducing legislation setting out the rights of natural parents despite last week’s controversial High Court judgment in which a married couple failed to win back custody of a child they put up for adoption. Ministers say they want to wait until after a Supreme Court hearing into the case of the child, referred to as baby “Ann”, is completed. Brian Lenihan, the minister for children, said the government would have to await “an authoritative ruling” before deciding what to do about the High Court decision.

The tug-of-love battle between the two-year old’s natural and adoptive parents was revealed in The Sunday Times on July 23. The couple had put the child up for adoption two years ago but changed their minds.

Alan Shatter, a family law expert and the former Fine Gael justice spokesman, said several reports by expert groups had identified this issue as one in need of legislation.

He said a period of six months had been recommended within which a parent who is fully counselled and fully informed could change his or her mind. But after that period, the adoption should become irrevocable.

In a High Court ruling made public yesterday at the request of the Adoption Board, Justice MacMenamin found that a two-year-old child would be psychologically damaged if she was taken away from an intended adoptive couple and given to her natural parents.