THE Government has published a Bill to amend the adoption laws in order to give fathers of children born outside marriage a say in their adoption. The legislation will also deal with foreign adoptions and specifically will facilitate the adoption of Chinese children by Irish people.
The proposed change in relation to fathers was made necessary by a European Court of Human Rights judgment in 1994. It found that Irish adoption law discriminates against fathers of non marital children.
It arose from a case taken by Mr Joseph Keegan, whose child was placed for adoption without his consent in 1988. Mr Keegan commenced a legal battle which culminated in a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated by the State.
Publishing the Bill, the Minister of State for Health, Mr Austin Currie, said it "gives statutory recognition to the position of the father of a child born outside marriage in the adoption process.
"It provides for the introduction of a new statutory procedure for consulting the father before the child is placed for adoption. A father who objects to a proposed placement will be given an opportunity to exercise his right to make an application to court for guardianship and/or custody of the child, if he so wishes."
The proposed changes regarding foreign adopt ions concern the adoption of children from certain countries such as China, Peru and Guatemala which the Adoption Board had said it could not legally recognise.
The Bill aims to recognise such adoptions but, if passed, bilateral agreements would will, it is understood, have to be made with the countries concerned to make it effective.