Calls for amendments to legislation so that adoption orders cannot be invalidated and that genuine consent is guaranteed.

The government is expected to approve legislation to ensure that all adoption orders made in the past cannot be invalidated by a court order. The legislation arises from a Supreme Court decision to return a six year old adopted boy to his natural parents. The decision came as the court found that the statutory requirements in relation to consent were not fulfilled when the adoption order was made.

Senator Mary Robinson said that the Supreme Court decision had highlighted the inequalities in the adoption system in Ireland. She says that reform should be proactive rather than reactive and that the law should anticipate and prevent such cases taking place.

One of the basic problems in our adoption code is the absence in many instances of real consent by the mother.

Senator Mary Robinson, President of Cherish, an organisation representing the interests of single mothers and the family, says that many single women are not provided with sufficient counselling during pregnancy in regard to what is in the best interest of their child. Mary Robinson describes how children born outside wedlock are disadvantaged in comparison to those born within marriage.

Her child, if born outside wedlock suffers legal disadvantages.

She outlines the process whereby the woman must make a choice about whether to keep her child or not in the light of economic, social and legal discrimination. As a result of such pressures, many women place their children up for adoption without any real consent. Such was the finding of the recent Supreme Court decision. As a result, the entire adoption order was nullified resulting in tragedy for the adoptive parents and tragedy for the child.

Having previously raised questions about the adoption process, Mary Robinson was assured by the Minister for Justice that all adoptions were legitimate. Despite the reassurance, this tragic case has arisen and there are potentially many more. She highlights that the system is not working well and that the welfare of the child needs to be at the centre of any adoption.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 14 June 1976. The reporter is Ronnie Turner.