Saturday 21 September 2019

Adoption scandal: How was this uncovered and what happens next?

Katherine Zappone with Cormac Quinlan, director of transformation and policy with Tusla
Katherine Zappone with Cormac Quinlan, director of transformation and policy with Tusla
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

DOZENS of people aged between 49 and 72 years old may have no idea that they were adopted. Political editor Kevin Doyle explains how this materialised.

Q. What is this scandal about?

A. Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has identified 126 individuals whose births were incorrectly registered between 1946 and 1969. Many of the people affected have no idea that the people they regarded as their parents were not in fact their birth parents.

Q. How did this happen?

A. It has long been suspected that the practice of incorrect registration took place – but this is the first time there is hard evidence.

Essentially, adoptive parents were allowed to register a baby as their biological son or daughter. This was and is illegal.

Q. Why would somebody do this?

A. Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone speculated that at the time, people may have misguidedly thought “this was best for the child”. But she said it was wrong and people “lost their true identity”.

Q. How was the practice uncovered?

A. Tusla found evidence in St Patrick’s Guild records because ‘adopted from birth’ was marked on an index card attached to some files. If this had not been present, it would have been extremely difficult to identify even the 126 cases.

Q. Did it just happen at St Patrick’s Guild?

A. There will be an investigation to find out but sources said there was a “feeling” the practice was “widespread”.

An independent reviewer has been appointed to oversee a “targeted sampling” of 150,000 records held by Tusla and the Adoption Authority.

Q. Are those affected being contacted?

A. The minister said it was a “struggle” to decide whether to alert people at this stage in their life but it was the right thing to do. “The process of offering contact and then supporting those affected will be handled very carefully,” Ms Zappone said.

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