Jay O’Callaghan and his husband Aaron O’Bryan are an Irish couple based in Toronto. In January 2018 they applied for an Irish passport for their young son Jake – a process which turned out to be anything but straightforward despite both being Irish citizens. Jay and Aaron have kindly agreed to share their story with us.
Moving2Ireland: Hi Jay, first of all thanks for sharing your story with us. So, can you give us a little background about the passport application process for your young son Jake?
Jay O’Callaghan: Sure! In January 2018, we applied for our son Jake’s Irish passport the same way any parent applies. We had all the correct forms, went to the Garda station and paid the appropriate fee. We had not heard from the Passport Office for six months despite many calls, web chats and emails. We finally received a phone call from the Passport Office, however it should be noted that this was only after I had sent a letter to the Passport Office. After that they informed us that we would need to complete a number of steps to get an Irish passport for Jake, even though both his parents – Aaron and I – are Irish citizens. One of the main points they made is that we would have to apply through the Irish Courts to apply for a Declaration of Parentage, this is a lengthy and very expensive process and we also have proved that in the country Jake was born.
M2I: This sounds like a very protracted process to obtain a passport for your son, especially as you are both Irish citizens. How did the application process progress from there?
JOC: We were lucky enough to have our story shared on a number of media platforms. Following this media attention, we received a new letter from the Passport Office informing us there was another route we could take in order to receive a passport for our son. Although myself and my husband’s names are the only two names on Jake’s birth certificate, we were still required to provide additional documentation to prove that Jake was indeed our son. Included in this documentation was DNA evidence to prove one of us was actually Jake’s Father. This was not something that was required of us in Canada, and I feel it is not something most people are asked to do when they provide the Passport Office with all appropriate documentation, which we had done.
M2I: That sounds like quite the ordeal indeed. Was that the end of the process?
JOC: No, unfortunately not. After that, we still had to prove that we were both habitual residents of Canada and that Jake is also a habitual resident of Canada. We were also required to complete an Affidavit of Laws prepared by a Canadian Lawyer stating that my husband and I were the main decision makers for our son. We also had to state that our surrogate did not have parental rights to our son, even though she is not genetically connected to Jake. Finally, we had to confirm that our surrogate’s husband, if she happened to have one, did not have any rights to our son, despite the fact that this person is not biologically connected to Jake.
M2I: This sounds like a very stressful experience for you both, especially as you are both Irish citizens. Not to mention the time, energy and financial costs that you must have incurred?
JOC: Yes. In order for our family to prove our son was in fact our biological son, we had to provide all these extra documents, which of course all cost more time and money. We had everything that was required to apply for a passport, yet we were made carry out these extra steps in order to get an Irish passport for Jake. Once all of this was submitted, we finally received Jake’s Irish passport.
M2I: How long in total did the entire process take?
JOC: It took over a year and in that time we asked the media for help to get out story out there and heard. We thank everyone who read our story and for articles like this that get published as we believe that is what helped in the Irish Passport Office giving us another option other than appearing in the Irish courts to prove something that other Irish citizens and families do not have to prove.
M2I: Ireland has made some progress in terms of same-sex equality in recent years but it’s clear that more needs to be done. How do you see the situation at home now?
JOC: The current situation for same sex male parents has not changed since last year, even after Minister Simon Harris announced that the issue will be dealt with when the Dáil returned in September 2018. Although we have Jake’s passport, the Irish state does not recognize my husband and I as equal in relation the rights of our son. Some publicity has come out about progress being made for same sex female parents, but even this information is very misleading. This is because it does not include the majority of same sex female families, as it lays down strict stipulations which only apply to a small number of families.
M2I: From your informative account of the applying for an Irish passport for Jake, it is clear that much more needs to be done for same sex Irish couples. Have you any final thoughts on 2018?
JOC: Looking back on the past year, it was a lot of stress and tears for us but in the end we are so happy to officially say that our son is an Irish citizen. We are all Irish citizens now, and we have his passport to prove it.
M2I: That really is the most important thing. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us at Moving2Ireland.
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