MORE than 1,000 adopted people and their birth relatives have been reunited by the National Adoption Register.
However, an advocate for adopted people has described this figure as "derisory" and said more needs to be done to publicise the register.
Some 7,068 people who were adopted as children have joined the register while 3,137 natural relatives – most of them birth parents – have also signed up.
So far, this has resulted in 540 matches whereby a person placed for adoption and their natural relative have both joined the register.
Susan Lohan, co-founder of Adoption Rights Alliance, said the fact that just over 1,000 people have been matched since the register was founded in 2005 is disappointing.
She said there were around 50,000 adopted people in Ireland, and, taking into account birth parents, grandparents and siblings, she gave a "conservative" estimate of 200,000 people who could be using the service.
Ms Lohan said this meant the register had achieved "a derisory 0.5pc matching rate".
"The flaw is that it's not reaching the people most required – natural mothers, particularly the natural mothers above a certain age, and this is due to a lack of publicity.
"You can see from the figures that there can only ever be a mismatch because there are twice as many adopted people as parents on the register. It should be the other way around," she argued.
Ms Lohan described the National Adoption Contact Preference Register (NACPR) as "mere optics".
"We want the same system as in the UK where, on reaching 18, you get access to your file. In the case of Ireland, that could mean your birth certificate and your original name. Some adopted people could even get their early medical and care records and for people caught up in the illegal vaccine trials this would be very serious," she added.
An Adoption Authority spokesman said it receives around 30 applications to join the register each week and "strongly encouraged" any adopted person or birth relative who wanted to get information or make contact to do so.
"We would point out that the NACPR is also open to those who don't, for whatever reason, feel ready for contact at present and allows them to let the other parties know this in a completely safe and confidential manner. The register also provides for the passing on of relevant background information, especially medical history, which is becoming increasingly relevant these days," he added.