About Irish Children
The referendum question relates to the issue of loving and committed same sex couples having the right to have a civil marriage.
That is the only issue and question being put to the voters. This referendum is not about adoption or about surrogacy – these are clearly important issues and ones that people care about deeply but they are complex issues which are dealt with in legislation and are not part of this referendum and should not form part of the debate. Passing or defeating this amendment will not change the situation one iota.
The Children and Family Relationship Bill 2015 will address many of the legal gaps faced by Irish children with lesbian and gay parents. This should become law by mid-April 2015. Background information on gay adoption: A single straight, lesbian or gay person can already adopt but an unmarried straight couple or a gay/lesbian couple cannot.
The issue of adoption will be dealt with in the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015 not the referendum. Adoption forms only a tiny part of this Bill and the changes mean that an unmarried cohabiting straight couple or a gay or lesbian cohabiting couple will be able to apply jointly to adopt. This is only the first step on a very long road with a rigorous assessment process. For an adopted child already living with gay or lesbian parents, the Bill will mean that he or she can have a legal relationship with his/her second parent (his/her adoptive father or mother’s partner).
Given the small number of children put up for adoption in Ireland each year – 112 adoption orders were granted in 2013 and the majority of these (86) were step-parent adoptions – any changes to the law will relate to a very small number of families and have very little impact on their adoption process.
The Adoption Authority views the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2014 in a positive light as it will “when enacted, will remove several roadblocks within the legal system that stand in the way of children having the best possible family life”.
[Adoption Authority Annual Report 2013: p.8 http://goo.gl/zfBALg].