THE Adoption Authority of Ireland has refused to recognise or register more than a dozen children born in Mexico and adopted by Irish families, the High Court has heard.
The refusal is because the children's placements don't comply with provisions of the international agreement on inter-country adoptions - The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children - which became law in Ireland when the Adoption Act was formally ratified on November 1, 2010.
One of the families affected, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, has brought a High Court challenge against Adoption Authority, and the State over the refusal to recognise the adoption of their child.
They claim they cannot fully comply with a requirement under the convention to have the adoption recognised because their daughter was placed with them prior to Ireland's ratification of the Hague Convention.
They claim that requirement is unlawful and the authorities' refusal breaches their constitutional rights to protection of the family, and their rights under the European convention for Human Rights.
The couple have asked the High Court to quash the Authority's decision of February 28 last to refuse to recognise and register the valid Mexican adoption of the child by her parents. They are also seeking orders recognising their child as an Irish citizen and the couple as her adoptive parents.
The couple adopted a Mexican girl shortly after she was born in July 2010. After going through various steps, their valid adoption was eventually effected by a Mexican Court in March 2011. They were then provided with the relevant documentation they believed they required to have the adoption recognised in Ireland.
Following their return home from Mexico, they applied to the Adoption Authority to have the adoption recognised. There followed long protracted correspondence. The couple said the Authority informed them it did not have the statutory power to recognise or register the said adoption.
As a result their child cannot get a passport or be recognised as an Irish citizen, and the couple are not recognised as her guardians.
In a final letter from the Authority the couple were told it (Authority) intends to notify the HSE of their inability to recognise the adoption so that the HSE is aware of the issues arising to their inter country adoption. The family said this is "a chilling statement."
In order to have the adoption recognised, they were asked by the Authority to provide a certificate - known as an article 23 certificate- as proof for the registration of the adoption.
Under the convention, the certificate is generated following agreement between the authorities in both the child's country of origin and the prospective parents country prior to the child's placement.
However the couple say that request is impossible to fulfil because on the date of their child's placement with her adoptive parents July 2010, when the Hague Convention did not have force of law in Ireland.
The couple say that they had a legitimate expectation that their adoption would be recognised.
Prior to the placement they were in contact with the authority. However, the couple say they never informed them in an effective manner about the impact that the change in Irish law in November 1, 2010, would have for the registration of adoptions still in progress in countries that are signatures to the Hague Convention.
In an affidavit, one of the parents said that the Authority will not recognise a total of 19 adoptions by Irish families from Mexico. A letter from the Mexican Embassy on the situation displayed to the court referred to the children as victims and urged that they remain in Ireland and that a solution be found.
Permission to the bring the action has was granted, on a one-side only represented basis, by Mr Justice Michael Peart who made the matter returnable to a date in June.