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Despite being the regulatory body for adoptions, the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) has repeatedly refused to deal with the issue of illegal adoptions, stating that because no adoption order existed, no adoption took place and it therefore has no jurisdiction, maintaining this position even when an adoption agency registered by them was proven to have arranged the illegal adoption.  

Adoption Rights Alliance believes that a statutory inquiry is the only way in which the full extent of these practices can be discovered and ultimately understood in order to prevent them from happening again, not to mention providing answers to those affected by illegal adoptions.  Most importantly, an inquiry would assist adopted people whose adoptions were illegal in tracing their natural parents or vice versa.  This factor is crucial as agencies such as St. Patrick’s Guild refuse to provide assistance to people in this position.  

With regard to the illegal adoption of Tressa Reeves’s son Andre Donnelly (exposed by the Irish Examiner in April 2010 and further covered in RTÉ’s Prime Time in May 2010) of which the AAI were made aware a decade ago, no one at the AAI has seen fit to resolve the matter for Ms. Reeves, a dignified and frail woman now in her 70’s.  This utter lack of compassion and a staggering inability to see difficult cases through to conclusion has no place in an organisation with a quasi-judicial status and reaffirms our lack of confidence in the AAI’s abilities.   

AAI Chairperson Geoffrey Shannon is the only person within the Authority to have taken a different stance on this, when he gave a personal commitment to deal with the issue of illegal adoptions during an interview with RTÉ’s Prime Time in May 2010.   Mr. Shannon repeated this commitment at the official launch of the AAI on November 1st, 2010.  However, later in November 2010, Registrar of the AAI, Kiernan Gildea issued a Statement that the Authority would not be investigating illegal adoptions, but it is not clear whether or not this Statement had the imprimatur of the chairman or the Board.    

We believe as a minimum strategy the AAI should compile and maintain a register of illegal adoptions without delay.  It should also establish an “Illegal adoptions Advisory group” (to include adopted people and natural parents).  All files should be located and seized and a comprehensive tracing database should be compiled.

Adoption Rights Alliance Correspondence with the Adoption Board Concerning Illegal Adoptions
On 31st May 2010 Adoption Rights Alliance wrote to Geoffrey Shannon and the Adoption Board regarding the issue of illegal adoptions, specifically referring to one particular case which the Board (previously under the chairmanship of Jim O'Sullivan) has ignored for five years (despite being alerted by us in 2005).  To date, no response or acknowledgement has been received.

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Resources for those illegally adopted

Not sure if you were illegally adopted? 
Click here for a definition of illegal adoptions

Sample Letters
Click the links for sample letters to the Adoption Authority if you were illegally adopted.

Sample letter for people adopted illegally

Sample letter for natural parents of people adopted illegally

IMPORTANT:  DO NOT send original documents to the Adoption Authority -send photocopies only

Adopted Illegally Ireland
Click here
for a website dedicated to and run by people illegally adopted

“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning . . . and the most disquieting loneliness." 

Alex Haley, Author of Roots 





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