Tuesday 24 October 2017

Mothers 'need veto over adoption contact register'

Dr Geoffrey Shannon
Dr Geoffrey Shannon
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Women who have given up a baby for adoption should be allowed the option to register a veto if they do not want to be contacted by the child in adulthood, the chairman of the Adoption Authority said.

Dr Geoffrey Shannon yesterday said this veto should be inserted in legislation which is being drawn up to place a contact and tracing register on a statutory footing.

It would give new rights of information to adopted people who want to trace their birth mother, but the wishes of the mother should be protected also, he said.

He was speaking at an Adoption Authority conference addressed by Children's Minister James Reilly, who said work is ongoing on the draft legislation and he will submit the heads of the Bill to the Government "as soon as possible".

He said that a "particular challenge arises in reconciling the adopted person's request for information on identity with the right to privacy of the birth parent when consent has not been provided."

Dr Shannon said the authority supports the view that all people who have been adopted have rights to identifying information and the release of birth certs when they reach 18 and this should be given serious consideration in law.

Support

He stressed the need for mediation and counselling prior to the release of the information.

Ruth Kelly, a senior social worker, also highlighted the need for trained support after a reunion.

The register is currently operating on a voluntary basis and in excess of 11,000 names of birth mothers and adopted children are on it, indicating their willingness for contact.

The film 'Philomena', featuring the story of Philomena Lee and her search for her son, increased registrations by 100pc in three months.

Since 2005, the register has led to 725 matches.

Dr Shannon pointed out: "Had the 2005 adoption register been in place at the time of Philomena and her son's trace, the outcome of both searches might have been different."

He added the authority encourages birth parents in particular to register.

Currently, 7,500 adopted people have registered compared with just 3,400 relatives.

The conference heard from speakers from Alberta in Canada, where a veto is in place. In the UK, information for adopted adults is a legal right.

Irish Independent

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