Woman claims her baby was adopted without her consent

31 MAY 2013

A WOMAN who claims her baby was put up for adoption in the 1970s without her permission is entitled to sue for damages even though she is not contesting the adoption order, the High Court ruled.

The woman is suing a religious order and the HSE, as successor to the adoption agency which arranged the placement of her daughter more than 40 years ago, claiming the adoption was done without her knowledge while she was a resident with the order.

She claims she was not even consulted when, as a teen mother, the baby was taken for adoption. She says she suffered psychological harm, among other injuries, due to the defendants' alleged negligence, breach of duty and breach of her constitutional rights.

She also claims fraud and undue influence in relation to documents she allegedly signed by her for the adoption.

The claims are denied.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan, who said the parties, with the exception of the HSE, should not be identified at this stage, described the case as a difficult, sensitive and painful one.

The judge was only dealing with a preliminary issue as to whether she could sue for damages if she was not contesting the validity of the adoption order.

She had no desire to upset the arrangement which had been made for her now adult child but was confining her claim to the alleged wrongs done to her, the judge said.

The defendants had argued she was not entitled to claim damages without first challenging the validity of the adoption order and without also possibly bringing others into the case, such as the child, the adoptive parents and the Adoption Authority of Ireland.

The issue was whether she could prove her damages case without proving facts which might invalidate the adoption order, the judge said.

It has also been argued by the religious order involved that she could not claim damages for being wrongfully deprived of her child unless the adoption order was declared invalid.

The HSE argued that if her claims of fraud were accepted, this would have the indirect effect of undermining the adoption order.

Ruling in her favour, Mr Justice Ryan it was not a precondition of seeking damages for her to include a claim that the adoption order was

invalid. It did not follow as a matter of law or logic that there should be such a rule, he said.

His view, he said, was reinforced by the 2010 Adoption Act (Section

50(1)) which says an adoption shall not be declared invalid by a court if it is satisfied that such a declaration would not be in the best interests of the child concerned, or that it would not be proper to do so having regard to the rights and interests of "all persons concerned"


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