Sunday 24 March 2019

Birth certs are denied to 46 adults who were adopted

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Up to 46 adults who were adopted have been refused access to their birth certificate in recent years - despite pledges to provide automatic access to this personal information.

Last year, nine adoptees were turned down after applying for their birth certificates, according to the Adoption Authority.

Generally, the watchdog releases birth certificates where a birth mother has agreed in writing to it being handed over, in cases where she is deceased and where there are no other obstacles.

However, it can be refused when the birth mother is consulted and opposes the release, or where it is regarded her privacy and safety might be put at risk.

It was promised two years ago that the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 would allow for stronger rights for adopted people to seek their birth certificates.

The proposals are that, before the certificate is handed over, the adopted person will be required to make a statutory declaration to respect the privacy of their birth parent and not attempt to contact them unless it is through official channels.

However, this legislation remains held up.

A spokesman for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs said yesterday the commencement of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 is a priority for the minister and the intention is that it will be enacted by the end of this year.

"The Bill has passed second stage in Seanad Éireann and is awaiting committee stage," said the spokesman.

Other provisions of the legislation include a plan to put a contact and tracing register on a statutory basis.

He said it provides that Tusla will establish and maintain a register to be known as the register of adoption contact enquiries.

"This register will be on a statutory footing and will underpin the information and tracing services carried out by Tusla.

"In the meantime, substantial preparatory work in relation to rationalisation of records, and preparation for the implementation of the legislation, is already under way between the department, Tusla and the Adoption Authority."

Meanwhile, Adoption Rights Alliance, representing adopted adults, called for an investigation into all illegal adoptions in Ireland.

It follows discovery that 126 illegal adoptions were found in the records of the former adoption agency St Patrick's Guild, ranging from 1946 to 1969.

Spokeswoman Claire McGettrick said: "The only way to ensure that illegally adopted people who are unaware of their status will be able to learn of their adoptions is to conduct a complete survey of all adoption files. It is simply unacceptable to leave anyone behind."

Paul Redmond of the Coalition of Mother And Baby home Survivors (CMABS) said they are united in rejecting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's assertion that it is too early to consider redress or free DNA tests for the victims of the latest adoption related scandal. "The Government's instant response to survivors and victims is to fob them off and began the endless series of excuses and stalling," he said.

Irish Independent

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