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New law could let 50,000 adopted people see their birth certs


James Reilly

James Reilly

James Reilly

A PROPOSED law that would see up to 50,000 adopted people gain the right to access their birth certificate has been described as “an emotional step towards knowing their bloodline and birth family”.

Wicklow TD Anne Ferris, who was herself adopted and gave up a child for adoption, hailed the planned legislation to be discussed by ministers this week.

If enacted, Children’s Minister James Reilly’s Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill would see many adopted people who cannot get their birth certificates for legal and privacy reasons being able to access the documents for the first time.

In order to protect parents and children, the adoptees would be required to sign a statutory declaration that would oblige them to respect the wishes of their birth parents should they wish not to be contacted.

Dr Reilly said his bill will go “as far as possible” to balancing the rights of both parties.

It has yet to be decided what legal implications adoptees would face if they broke the terms of the obligation.

“It’s a year ago this week since I told my own personal story of meeting my adult sister for the first time in a Dublin hotel,” Ms Ferris said this morning.

“During that debate, Minister Reilly committed to the finalisation of long-awaited adoption tracing legislation. This week we will be closer to that objective.

“I know from personal experience that meeting an adult child for the first time is a terrifying prospect for both parties.

“For the small percentage of parents and children who feel unable at first to take that daunting step to meet one another, I have every trust that the parties involved will be respectful of each other’s feelings.”