Family and Children’s Policy Directorate
Department of Health
Belfast BT4 3SQ
Data Protection Officer:
Being transparent and providing accessible information to individuals about how we may use personal data is a key element of the Data Protection Act (DPA) and the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The Department of Health (DoH) is committed to building trust and confidence in our ability to process your personal information.
Why are you processing my personal information?
As the Northern Ireland Central Authority for Intercountry Adoption, the Department of Health (the Department) is responsible for checking and processing your Intercountry Adoption application. Having checked and processed your application we forward a copy of your application with your Certificate of Entitlement to Adopt to the Central Authority of the country from which you wish to adopt, using the courier service which you have organised.
Lawful basis for processing data relating to Intercountry Adoptions
The lawful basis for processing your information is provided under Article 6(1)(e) of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR); the processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller.
The processing of your sensitive or ‘special category’ personal data, such as health information, is considered lawful under Article 9(2)(g) of the UK GDPR; the processing is necessary for reasons of substantial public interest and is in exercise of the function conferred on the Department as regards to processing intercountry adoption applications. This is to ensure that intercountry adoptions are processed in compliance with the legislative framework with satisfactory child safeguarding procedures and that an intercountry adoption is in a child’s best interest. Schedule 1(6) of DPA 2018 also applies to the processing, as the processing falls under Statutory Government purposes and is necessary for reasons of substantial public interest and as part of a function conferred on the Department by law.
There is specific legislation which covers the processing of this information including provisions in Adoption (Intercountry Aspects) Act (Northern Ireland) 2001 relating to the transferring of your information:
Article 2 of the above Act designates the Department of Health in Northern Ireland as the Central Authority for Hague Convention Intercountry Adoptions.
Article 9(a) directs that Central Authorities shall collect, preserve and exchange information about the situation of the child and the prospective parents, so far as it is necessary to complete the adoption.
Article 15(1) states that if the Central Authority of the receiving State is satisfied the applicants are eligible and suited to adopt, it should prepare a report including information about their identity, eligibility and suitability to adopt, background, family and medical history, social environment, reasons for adoption, as well as the characteristics of the children for whom they would be qualified to adopt.
Other legislation relating to intercountry adoption includes:
- The Adoption (Hague Convention) Act (Northern Ireland) 1969
- The Adoption (Northern Ireland) Order 1987
- The Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995
- The Adoption of Children from Overseas Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002
- The Intercountry Adoption (Hague Convention) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003
- The Adoption and Children Act (Northern Ireland) 2022.
- United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989
- Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption (concluded 29 May1993) [the 1993 Hague Convention].
 Ratified by the UK in 1991
Adoption Regional Policy and Procedures 2017 (Chapter 13) – produced by the then Health and Social Care Board, now the Strategic Planning and Performance Group of the Department of Health.
Categories of personal data
Your intercountry adoptive application dossier which is forwarded by the Department to the Central Authority of the country from which you wish to adopt contains the information provided by you to your HSC Trust during the adoption assessment process. This will include information relating to:
- family background information for you, your parents and siblings and any other significant persons in your family;
- significant events that impacted on your life;
- your health history and that of family members, if deemed relevant;
- your employment history and the occupation of your parents and siblings;
- your marital status and the marital status of family members;
- your nationality and religion;
- your social interests and lifestyle;
- your education history, financial status, income and financial commitments including information relating to your home; and
- a copy of your birth and marriage certificates and Access Northern Ireland Enhanced Disclosure Certificate(s).
The dossier will also contain your medical assessment provided by medical professionals and references provided by your nominated referees, as well as the minutes of the meeting of the Adoption Panel which approved your adoption application.
It may also include information provided by your current partner relating to their relationship with you, childhood information – including their family background, date of birth, marital status, employment status, social interests and if relevant, information relating to their children.
Where do you get my personal data from?
The personal data we check and process has been provided by you to your HSC Trust during the intercountry adoption assessment process, as well as your referees, your General Practitioner/medical consultant and financial institutions. Following completion of that process your intercountry adoption application documents are hand delivered by the Regional Intercountry Adoption Assessment Service (RIAAS) to the Department to allow us to carry out our processing role as the Northern Ireland Central Authority for Intercountry adoptions.
Do you share my personal data with anyone else?
The Department, as and when required to do so, will share your information with:
- the Central Authority of the respective country from which you wish to adopt;
- the Central Authority of the country where prospective adoptive parents live (for children adopted from Northern Ireland under kinship arrangements);
- the Department for Education, England, for applications from non-Hague Convention countries to enable issuance of a Certificate of Eligibility to Adopt;
- the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for applications to adopt from non-Hague adoption countries for the purposes of getting the intercountry adoption application legalised;
- embassies of non-Hague adoption countries to which an application to adopt has been made in order to have the intercountry adoption application authenticated;
- the Intercountry Adoption Centre for applications to adopt from South Africa;
- your nominated Notary Public to notarise your intercountry adoption application;
- relevant overseas authorities; limited to the Central Authority or Authorised Foreign Adoption Agency as set out in the application process for the chosen country of origin.
- overseas agencies/lawyers; and
- the Northern Ireland Court and Tribunal Service in relevant cases.
Do you transfer my personal data to other countries?
The personal data outlined above is shared with the Central Authority of the country from which you wish to adopt. Any transfer of personal data will be made in full compliance with UK GDPR.
If the country has been deemed to provide an adequate level of protection in accordance with the UK ‘adequacy regulations’, then the transfer will be made in line with Article 45 of the UK GDPR i.e. transfers on the basis of an adequacy decision .
 Further information on the countries and territories in relation to which the UK has “adequacy regulations” can be found at https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/international-transfers-after-uk-exit/#:~:text=UK%20%E2%80%9Cadequacy%20regulations%E2%80%9D%20set%20out,freedoms%20for%20their%20personal%20data
Transfers or disclosures may also be made under Article 46 of the UK GDPR, where these are made on the basis of an international agreement in force under the 1993 Hague Convention.
In certain circumstances transfers or disclosures may also be made under Article 49 (1) (d) of the UK GDPR, which, in relation to public authorities, permits personal data to be transferred to a third country if the transfer is necessary for important reasons of public interest.
In these circumstances, in order to comply with the UK GDPR, we must ensure that you appreciate that the approach to security of personal data may differ in third countries and that they may not offer the same level of data protection to a standard equivalent to that within the UK.
How long do you keep my personal data?
The Department retains intercountry adoption application records of applicants who have adopted a child for 75 years in line with its Retention and Disposal Schedule Good Management Good Records.
The Department does not retain records of applicants who have withdrawn their intercountry adoption application. The hard copy of the intercountry adoption application file is returned to the local Health and Social Care Trust and the electronic record of the file is permanently deleted from the Department of Health’s electronic record system in line with our Retention and Disposal Schedule.
What rights do I have?
- Individuals have the right to be informed about the collection and use of their personal data via this Privacy Notice.
- Individuals have the right to access and receive a copy of their personal data, and other supplementary information by making a Subject Access Request (SAR) to the Department.
- The UK GDPR includes a right for individuals to have inaccurate personal data rectified, or completed if it is incomplete. If you believe your data is inaccurate you should contact us.
- The UK GDPR introduces a right for individuals to have personal data erased. This only applies in certain circumstances.
- Individuals have the right to request the restriction or suppression of their personal data in certain circumstances.
Further information about these rights can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office website (https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/individual-rights/right-to-be-informed/)
How do I complain if I am not happy?
If you are unhappy with any aspect of this privacy notice, or how your personal information is being processed, please contact the Department of Health via the Department’s Data Protection Officer (please see email address above).
If you are still not happy, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) at:
Information Commissioner’s Office
Tel: 0303 123 1113
This version was last updated on 27 July 2023.