Couple refused access to Mexico adoption papers
Mr Justice Henry Abbott: “any child” in the Adoption Act meant the child to whom the entry in the register or documents related
A couple who applied for access to documents on adoptions from Mexico held by the Adoption Authority have been told they cannot have the papers they requested.
In a published judgment from the Family High Court, Mr Justice Henry Abbott ruled that the Adoption Act 2010 only allowed a child named in documents or on the register to have access to those documents held by the authority.
The applicants sought “all documents” relating to “any entry” by the authority in the register of inter-country adoptions since the commencement of the Adoption Act 2010.
They also sought papers related to inter-country adoptions from Mexico, including documents relating to the applications for such entries.
The authority had refused to register a child they adopted in Mexico on the Register of Adoptions. There were concerns related to its compliance with the 1993 Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption Hague Convention.
Ireland ratified the convention on November 1st, 2010, and Mexico ratified it on May 1st, 1995.
The couple had been assessed by the authority as being eligible as prospective adopters for a foreign adoption prior to Irish ratification. They had already begun the process of locating and making arrangements for the prospective adoption of a child in Mexico before November 2010.
After that date, a child was found and arrangements were made with his mother in Mexico to formalise the proposed adoption in Mexico.
An adoption order was handed down by the local civil court in Mexico. The couple returned to Ireland with the child in April 2011 and applied to the authority to have the child’s adoption entered on the Register of Foreign Adoptions the following month.
The application was refused and legal proceedings followed.
The couple applied for discovery of documents as part of that case. They said they needed the documents to establish if the authority had the power to recognise the Mexican adoption. They also wanted to determine why the authority believed it did not have the power and which sections of the Act referred to them not having the power.
The Adoption Act 2010 stipulates that a court “shall not make an order” for “the discovery, inspection, production or copying of any book, document or record of the authority” unless the court is satisfied that it is “in the best interests of any child concerned”.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Abbott referred to a judgment of Ms Justice Fidelma Macken in DC v DM, made in 1992.
Referencing earlier adoption legislation, this judgment said the only circumstance in which a discovery could be made was where it was in “the best interests of any child concerned to do so”. She said the “child concerned” was “the child concerned with the particular documents sought to be discovered”. She refused the application.
Mr Justice Abbott said the legislation in that case “reflected closely” the wording of the provisions in the 2010 Act.
He said he also examined the relevant provisions in the 2010 Act and found the reference to “any child” in the Act meant the child to whom the entry in the register or the documents related and the word “concerned” plainly related to the records of each child on the register. To take any other meaning from it would be “to introduce a contradiction or anomaly”.
Mr Justice Abbott refused the application on that basis.