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Senators propose new bill for adoption rights

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Senator Averil Power. Photo: Tom Burke

Senator Averil Power. Photo: Tom Burke

Senator Averil Power. Photo: Tom Burke

OPPOSITION senators have launched a new identity and information bill that could provide adopted people with an automatic right to a copy of their birth certificate.

If enacted by government, the legislation would entitle every adoptee to personal information including their original name, the name of their birth mother and their place of birth.

The bill was produced by Fianna Fail Senator Averil Power who met her natural mother at the age of 29 after being adopted from a mother and baby home.

She said similar legislation has been in place in other states like England, Scotland, Wales and Canada for years.

Launching the bill, Ms Power spoke of the pain of growing up "not knowing who you really are and where you came from".

"Thousands of Irish adoptees don't know their original names, who their parents are or even if there is a serious illness that runs in their family. Not knowing is a source of great pain and anxiety. Our bill is designed to change this," she said.

The bill would also allow adoptees and natural parents to request each others contact details although either side may accept or decline the request.

Natural parents would be able to provide family medical history information even if they are unwilling to be contacted.

"Some adoptees may wish to meet their parents, and vice versa. Others may not. Each person will be able to pick the option that best suits their individual needs and sensitivities," said Ms Power.

The bill is co-sponsored by Senator Fidelma Healy Eames who herself adopted two children, and former head of the Children's Rights Alliance Senator Jillian van Turnhout.

"We are very carefully balancing the right to your identity with the right to privacy of the birth parents," she said.

A spokesman for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs said Minister James Reilly has asked his officials to consider the proposals "in the context of ongoing work on the issue".

He said "complex legal and constitutional issues have arisen" in the drafting of the department's Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill, which the minister hopes to publish as soon as possible. He added that the minister intends to "go as far as legally possible to provide persons affected by adoption with identity information".

Irish Independent