In conversion with Milana:
My name is Milana and like all mothers, I love my children, Vanessa and Harry, dearly. A couple of years ago, myself and my husband Patrick made the decision to unify our family under the Step-Parent Adoption Process – thus allowing Patrick (who is not Vanessa’s biological father) to be officially recognised as Vanessa’s legal guardian. However, when we went to apply for his guardianship of my daughter we were horrified to learn that in order for the application to be successful I must agree to one of the terms – stating that “the biological mother becomes the adoptive mother of her own child.”
In other words, my husband can only adopt Vanessa if I agree to waive my right as her biological mother and allow her original birth cert to be replaced by a new one stating me as her ‘adoptive’ mother instead. I carried my daughter for nine whole months, reared her for eight years, it’s unthinkable that I should have to abide by some cruel, outdated law that forces me to not only sign away my own child effectively, but also sign away my natural right to being officially recognised her biological mother.
And because I can’t and won’t agree to that term, I can’t proceed with the application – which is grossly unfair – because should anything happen to me and we’re not unified as a family, Vanessa and her brother Harry (Patrick’s biological son) face being separated from one another in the event Vanessa’s biological father should seek full custody of her in the future.
At present, Vanessa’s biological father has given a verbal agreement to Patrick adopting her.
Angry and heartbroken I contacted the then Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, as she was a mother and would most likely be horrified if she and her family faced the same situation. Though she replied apologising for the ‘anomaly’ in the law, nothing was done about it. So two years on I’m forced to make another plea – this time to the current Minister for Children, James Reilly, asking him if he thinks it fair that a mother – who wants to do the best by her family by unifying them – in doing so is forced to waive her biological status.
Does he also think it fair that a mother who loves and cares for her children dearly – in an effort to unify her family should have to comply to being vetted by Gardai and other authorities like she was nothing more than a childminder to them?
It’s not fair and as tax-paying Irish parents our family deserves better than to suffer some outdated law.
There are a lot more families out there in the same position but are reluctant to come forward. Please share this letter. It might help change the law so that no other family has to endure the heartbreak we have in doing what we believe is best for our family.
Milana Kearns x.
Please sign Milana’s petition here.
Main image: Milana and her children.