The Adoption Process

Introduction to Intercountry Adoption


This guide is intended for people interested in intercountry adoption, who are resident in Ireland. Irish residents who wish to adopt a child abroad are required to have their eligibility and suitability established by the Child and Family Agency or by an accredited assessment agency prior to adopting.


The eligibility criteria for adoption are provided for under the Adoption Act 2010. In order to be eligible to adopt you must fall into one of the following categories:

You are a married couple living together.

This is the only circumstance where the law permits the adoption of a child by more than one person;

You are a married person living alone.

In this circumstance the spouse’s consent to the adoption must be obtained, unless they are living apart and are separated under (i) a court decree, (ii) a deed of separation, (iii) the spouse has deserted the prospective adopter or (iv) conduct on the part of the spouse results in the prospective adopter,with just cause, leaving the spouse and living apart;

You are the mother, father or a relative of the child

(relative meaning a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt of the child and/or the spouse of any such person, the relationship to the child being traced through the mother or the father);

You are a widow/widower;

You are a sole applicant not covered in any of the categories above and the Adoption Authority is satisfied that, in the particular circumstances of the case, it is desirable to grant an adoption order.

There is also a minimum age limit for adoption. You must be at least 21 years of age if the child is not a relative. If the child is to be adopted by the natural father or mother, or a relative of the child, only one of you must have attained the age of 21.

Currently there is NO UPPER AGE LIMIT in Irish statute in relation to intercountry adoption, nor is one applied by the Adoption Authority in relation to the decision to issue a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability (“Declaration”).

As regards residency, you must be ordinarily resident in the State and must have resided in the State for at least one year before the date of the making of the Adoption Order.


Suitability assessments may only be carried out by your local office of the Child and Family Agency (formerly the HSE) or by any accredited assessment agency nominated by CFA. However ALL applications for assessment must, in the first instance be made to the CFA.

The 5 Standards
In assessing your suitability regard shall be had to the following standards:

  1. The capacity to safeguard the child throughout his or her childhood;
  2. The capacity to provide the child with family life that will promote his or her development and well being and have due regard to the physical, emotional, social, health, educational, cultural, spiritual and other dimensions. The resources that families can draw on will vary from family to family and may change over time. Whatever circumstances the family find themselves in, the applicant/s will be able to demonstrate their understanding of the importance of maintaining an on-going and meaningful relationship with their child;
  3. The capacity to provide an environment where the child’s original nationality, race, culture, language and religion will be valued and appropriately promoted throughout childhood. This will include the capacity of the parent/s to recognise the differences between themselves and their child within these areas and to recognise and try to combat racism and other institutional and personal oppressive forces within society;
  4. The capacity to recognise and understand the impact of being an adopted child from an overseas country on the development of the child’s identity throughout their childhood and beyond;
  5. The capacity to recognise the need for and to arrange for appropriate support and intervention from health, social services, educational, and other services throughout childhood.


Applications must be made to your local Child and Family Agency Office.