Illegal Adoptions

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What is Illegal Adoption?

Adoption has been a common theme in Ireland for the last 100 years and until recently was administered predominantly by institutions associated with the Catholic Church. Adoption was particularly common in Ireland due to the perceived guilt and shame of having a child out of wedlock. Thousands of children were admitted to the care of adoption institutions who failed to adopt proper procedures for the registration of adoptions.

Investigations carried out by Barnardo’s children’s charity have found that there may be up to 15,000 illegal adoptions throughout Ireland where adoptive parents were registered as birth parents.

The organisation Adoptions Rights Allowance have also found that at least 182 institutions or individuals across Ireland have been involved in illegal adoption practices.

One such institution that has come under intense scrutiny is the now defunct St Patrick’s Guild who have been found to be responsible for the incorrect registration of 126 adoptions. This led to TUSLA, Ireland’s child protection agency, contacting the affected individuals in 2018 to inform them of this practice of illegal adoption.

What Legal Action can be Taken?

High Court proceedings were issued in the first illegal adoption case in July 2020. Actor Patrick Fitzsymons has taken a civil claim against the church and state agencies that were responsible for his illegal adoption. The claimant’s birth parents put him up for adoption after being born out of wedlock. He was admitted to the care of St Patrick’s Guild and later adopted by a couple who were incorrectly registered as his birth parents.

Claims of this nature allow victims of this corrupt practice to recover damages for personal injury and loss including psychological damage, distress and anguish. Damages can also be sought for actionable conspiracy, deceit, malicious falsehood and infringement of constitutional rights.

There have also been calls for a public inquiry into illegal adoptions to examine the full extent of the scandal. TUSLA are in the process of reviewing adoption records but have come in for criticism due to the selective nature of their investigation of individual cases. It is envisaged that a full public inquiry would be more effective in uncovering the extent of illegal adoption in Ireland.

How We Can Help

Our expert human rights solicitors are highly experienced in cases of this nature. We will request all relevant records in relation to each individual’s adoption and examine whether or not correct procedures were followed. Proceedings can then be issued against the institution responsible. If these institutions were run by the Catholic Church or the State, then proceedings can be issued against them directly.

We believe that proper investigation of these cases will reveal that hundreds of institutions across Ireland were involved in illegal adoption, many of whom were overseen by the State or the Catholic Church. Our goal is to uncover the systematic failings in relation to adoption practices in Ireland and to ultimately seek closure for victims.

Our solicitors are qualified in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, leaving us ideally placed to take cases in both jurisdictions.

Contact us for an initial enquiry. We will discuss the funding options which are available to our client’s, including Legal Aid, legal expenses cover and private paying.

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    Illegal Adoptions was last modified: July 29th, 2021 by Conal McGarrity