Wednesday 29 March 2017

Parents of adopted 'can block access to birth cert'

Children and Youth Affairs Minister Katherine Zappone
Children and Youth Affairs Minister Katherine Zappone
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The natural parents of an adopted adult will be able to block access to their birth certificate if they have "compelling reasons" why the information should not be released.

The provision is allowed for in newly published adoption legislation which gives people who are adopted a right to their birth certificates.

The wide-ranging Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 aims to modernise the law and meet many of the demands of adopted adults while also balancing the rights of birth parents.

"Over the past year, work has been ongoing to draft this important legislation. This Government fully appreciates that the desire to know one's identity, or to re-establish contact, is fundamental and entirely reasonable," Children and Youth Affairs Minister, Katherine Zappone, said.

"However the balancing of rights of those affected by adoption cannot be discounted."

Under the terms of the Bill an adopted adult will also be entitled to a copy of their adoption order - again subject to conditions.

The Adoption Authority of Ireland will have overall responsibility for the safeguarding of adoption records, including information relating to informal adoption arrangements and people whose birth was incorrectly registered.

"All adoption records, which are currently held in a number of locations, are to be transferred to the custody of the Authority. The Bill provides that the records are to be indexed and a searchable electronic database of records be created," said Ms Zappone.

An information and tracing service, currently operated on a voluntary basis, will be given statutory footing.

It will provide a structured and regulated access to information and tracing services. Adopted people and birth parents can put their name on the register indicating they would like to be contacted. Where both parties consent, the agency will facilitate contact.

Referring to the rights of birth parents, the Bill said their right to privacy should be protected.

It means they put their name on the register indicating they do no want contact or be notified in advance if the child they gave up for adoption seeks their birth certificate as an adult.

If a birth parent has not registered, or has indicated a "no contact" preference, the adopted adult must sign a declaration saying they will not try to make contact.

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, welcomed the Bill but pointed out it does not bring any immediate changes to current arrangements. Anyone affected by or concerned about the publication of the Bill can contact their local Tusla adoption team for advice.

Irish Independent

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