Legislating care and protection
The Carrigan Committee, the age of consent, and adoption
in Precarious childhood in post-independence Ireland
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Events surrounding the Carrigan Committee and the presentation of its report suggest that the assumptions, beliefs and behaviors related to sexual morality in post-independence Ireland were complex. The Catholic hierarchy opposed adoption on several grounds, and no administration was willing to cross the church on this issue. Adoption by an American family under American adoption laws provided the only alternative to institutional life or an insecure informal adoption or fostering arrangement in Ireland. The adoption of legitimate children presented a challenge in the context of the government's conceptualization of ‘normal’ or appropriate family composition. The evolution of Ireland's adoption process up to 1952 reveals the yawning schism between the republican ideal to ‘cherish all the children of the nation equally,’ and the way the state dealt with children who for whatever reason could not be cared for and protected by their own biological parents.

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