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You are here:>>Home>>Press>>Adoption body need not inform natural fathers, court rules
        
        
Adoption body need not inform natural fathers, court rules
        
The Irish Times - Weds, 25 June, 2014
by Fiona Gartland
        
        
A legal requirement that the Adoption Authority of Ireland notify the natural father of a child before his child is adopted was dispensed with in four cases at the High Court yesterday.

Mr Justice Henry Abbott found it was impossible in the circumstances for the authority to identify the natural fathers.

The cases were taken by the authority and, in all four, the current partners of the mothers were seeking to adopt the children involved. As part of the procedure, the mothers were also required to adopt their own children.

The mothers, not in court, made declarations stating their children were produced through one-night encounters with men they did not know.

They said they met the men in bars or nightclubs in Ireland and, in one case, abroad. They had the encounters under the influence of alcohol and only knew the first name of the man involved, could not recall a name or had not been given a name. They also declared they were not in relationships with any other men at the time of becoming pregnant.

Social worker reports were produced in each case and the court was told the mothers were assessed as being “honest and truthful”. In one case, the mother told the social worker of her embarrassment and shock.
        
Paternal background
        
Another mother spoke of her sadness one of her children would not have access to information about her father while her other children would.

All of the mothers had received counselling, the court was told, and accepted the natural father could challenge the adoption at a later date.

Counsel for the authority also said the mothers and their current partners had been assessed for adoption and been found eligible and suitable.

Mr Justice Abbott said there was an onus on the court to get the authority to do the utmost it could to track down the males involved but the area was “very fraught”.

The court experience was that, when too much energy was put into searching, the court could run into trouble related to data protection, he said.
        
‘Extreme upset’
        
There could also be “extreme upset” if a “round robin letter”° was issued in a particular area seeking a father.

He was satisfied in the cases all steps were taken to try to establish the fathers’ identities.

Mr Justice Abbott suggested the authority consider when it might be appropriate for the court to hear the voice of the child in cases.

Reporting of adoption was made possible earlier this year by the enactment of legislation relaxing privacy in family and childcare cases.
        
        
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