Adoption reform bill is signed into law by President Higgins

It brings some changes from the November 2012 referendum into effect

Adoption reform bill is signed into law by President Higgins

File photo dated of a mother holding the hand of a new baby | Image: Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire/Press Association Images

A bill to allow children to be adopted by their foster parents has been signed into law.

The Adoption (Amendment) Bill 2016 was signed by President Michael D Higgins on Wednesday.

The bill brings some of the policy changes into effect from the 2012 children's rights referendum.

The legislation also ensures that all children being considered for adoption are treated equally, regardless of the marital status of their parents.

It also allows children to be adopted by their foster carers, where they have cared for the child for at least 18 months.

And it provides for the adoption of a child by civil partners and cohabiting couples.

It also provides that in any matter, application or proceedings under the Adoption Act 2010, the main consideration will be the best interest of the child.

While any child who is capable of forming his or her own views will have these taken into account by the Adoption Authority of Ireland or a court.

These shall be taken onboard with regard to the age and maturity of the child.

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone said: "I welcome the signing of this important child-centred bill into law by the president.

"I hope to be in a position to commence the provisions of this bill as soon as possible."

The minister added: "The decision of the people in the children referendum of November 2012 endorsed the proposition of the Government of the day to move the position of children on to a new level as regards recognition of the unique qualities, as well as vulnerabilities, of childhood and adolescence.

"It gave this generation an opportunity to author an enduring positive message to future generations - we place the welfare of children amongst the highest values of our society."

The bill also provides for a number of other changes, including:

  • A new test in the case of the adoption of children whose parents fail in their duty towards them
  • The bill provides for the adoption of a child by his or her step parent without the requirement for the child's other parent to adopt his or her own child