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Louisa Gothard
Louisa Gothard
Senior Solicitor, Head of Family Law
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ADOPTION: Kearns v France (ECHR)
Date:18 JAN 2008

(European Court of Human Rights; 10 January 2008)

An Irish mother had travelled to France in order to have a private birth, to be registered anonymously and followed by adoption of the child. The conditions and effects of anonymous registration of the birth were explained to her in two lengthy interviews, involving medically qualified interpreters; the explanation included the fact that there was a 2-month period within which the mother could request the return of the child. The mother consented to the adoption on the day after the birth. Over 5 months later the mother sought to have the child returned to her; the child had in the meantime been placed with a foster family with a view to adoption. The mother claimed that her human rights had been breached, in that the 2-month period was too short, and that she had been provided with insufficient linguistic assistance.

It had been in the interests of the child to enjoy stable emotional relations within a new family as quickly as possible; the 2 month time limit appeared sufficient to allow the mother time to reflect and to reconsider her decision to give the child up. The French authorities had provided the mother with sufficient and detailed information, affording her linguistic assistance not required by law and ensuring that she was informed as thoroughly as possible of the consequences of her choice. There had been no breach of the mother's rights under Art 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.