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Adoption Rights Alliance Correspondence with the Adoption Board Concerning Illegal Adoptions

On 31st May 2010 Adoption Rights Alliance wrote to Geoffrey Shannon and the Adoption Board regarding the issue of illegal adoptions, specifically referring to one particular case which the Board (previously under the chairmanship of Jim O'Sullivan) has ignored for five years (despite being alerted by us in 2005).  To date, no response or acknowledgement has been received.

Click here for a definition of illegal adoptions

Details of the letter are as follows:
(Some details removed to protect privacy of individuals)

Regarding St. Patrick’s Guild Adoption Society, which has been involved in a number of illegal adoptions, we have demanded the following: 

We ask the Board to immediately seize the files held by St. Patrick’s Guild for inspection under Section 38 of the 1952 Adoption Act so that the level of illegal adoptions facilitated by the Guild can be ascertained without delay.  We strongly concur with your [Geoffrey Shannon’s] recommendation to deregister agencies who have been engaged in wrongdoing and we urge the Board to deregister St. Patrick’s Guild as soon as possible and report the matter to the Gardaí.

Registration and Reporting of Illegal Adoptions

1.      Has the Adoption Board ever maintained a register/list of Illegal Adoptions as Barnardos and Adoption Rights Alliance do?

a.      If <Y>, since when has this list been maintained and how many cases are noted?

b.      If <N>, why is a list not maintained?

2.      Has the Adoption Board ever corresponded with Barnardos (or received correspondence from them) with regard to the register of illegal adoptions maintained by Barnardos? 

3.      If staff at the Board or Board members are made aware of an illegal adoption, whether through correspondence or through an application to the NACPR or NAITS,

a.       what administrative procedures exist to ensure that such adoptions are brought to the attention of the Board Chairman, the Registrar and the CEO? 

4.      Please clarify

a.      whether clerical staff and Board members have ever been trained to identify illegal adoptions ?

b.      how the Board defines an illegal adoption (*see our definition in the schedule attached) ? 

5.      Where a person, who has been illegally adopted, makes an application to the NACPR or NAITS or makes a formal complaint about their adoption and there is no corresponding adoption board file,

a.      What administrative procedures exist to obtain the details, which might facilitate a match e.g. requesting files from the Registered Adoption Agency (if known) or private individual facilitating the adoption ?

b.      What administrative procedures exist to inform the adopted person of the illegal nature of their adoption ?

c.       What administrative procedures exist to contact the natural parent whose child was subject to an illegal adoption ? 

6.      Where a person, who has been illegally adopted, makes an application to the NACPR or NAITS or makes a formal complaint about their adoption and there is a corresponding adoption board file,

a.      what administrative procedures exist to obtain the details, which might facilitate a match e.g. requesting files from the Registered Adoption Agency (if known) or private individual facilitating the adoption ?

b.      what administrative procedures exist to inform the adopted person of the illegal nature of their adoption ?

c.       what administrative procedures exist to contact the natural parent whose child was subject to an illegal adoption ? 

7.      Where a natural parent whose child has been illegally adopted, makes an application to the NACPR or NAITS or makes a formal complaint about their child’s adoption and there is no corresponding adoption board file,

a.      what administrative procedures exist to obtain the details, which might facilitate a match e.g. requesting files from the Registered Adoption Agency (if known)

b.      what administrative procedures exist to inform the natural parent of the illegal nature of their child’s adoption

c.       what administrative procedures exist to contact the adopted person at the centre of the illegal adoption 

8.      Where a natural parent, whose child has been illegally adopted, makes an application to the NACPR or NAITS or makes a formal complaint about their child’s adoption and there is a corresponding adoption board file

a.      what administrative procedures exist to obtain the details, which might facilitate a match e.g. requesting files from the Registered Adoption Agency (if known)

b.       what administrative procedures exist to inform the natural parent of the illegal nature of their child’s adoption

c.       what administrative procedures exist to contact the adopted person at the centre of the illegal adoption 

9.      What plans exist for the Adoption Board to commence formal reporting of the instance of illegal adoptions in their future Annual Reports? We have many other changes to suggest with regard to this report and we look forward to discussing those with you at a formal meeting. 

10.   What plans exist for the Chair of the Adoption Board to initiate an full enquiry into the systemic practice of illegal adoptions, whether commencing with those agencies or individuals already implicated e.g. St Patrick’s Guild or Mary Keating ? 

11.   Will the Adoption Board be using the resources of the GRO or other state databases to obtain a list of births which may have been regarded as suspect? 

12.   Will the Adoption Board compile a detailed dossier for the Gardai, particularly where evidence of systemic false registrations have occurred ? 

13.   What measures are being planned to safeguard the files of any suspect agencies, in advance of deregistration and/or criminal proceedings ? 

14.   Please clarify whether the Board has in the past ever amended an adoption order to correct particulars incorrectly recorded as a result of false registrations. 

15.   What corrective measures would the Board take to amend an adoption order deemed to be incorrect as a result of an investigation into an illegal adoption ? 

16.   What corrective measures would the Board take to amend a birth registration deemed to be false as a result of an investigation into an illegal adoption ?  

Registration and Deregistration of Agencies

17.   Irrespective of the outcome of any Garda investigation into illegal adoptions, does the Adoption Board intend to deregister any agency it finds to have been involved in illegal actions? 

18.   In Part IV, section 36 (1) of the 1952 Adoption Act, reference is made to an applicant adoption agency furnishing the Board with “such information as the Board may think necessary to enable it to determine if the body is entitled to be registered”.    Could you provide

a.      an explanation/list of the information, the Board may deem necessary. 

19.   Section 36 (2) (a) refers to registration being dependent on the Board’s satisfaction that an applicant agency “exists only for the purpose of promoting charitable, benevolent or philanthropic objects”.    Could you provide

a.      an explanation of how the Board determines whether an applicant agency meets this criterion 

20.   Section 36 (2) (b) refers to registration being dependent on the Board’s satisfaction that an applicant agency “is competent to discharge the obligations imposed upon registered adoption agencies”.    Could you provide a list of

a.      The criteria applied by the Board to determine competency

b.       The obligations imposed by the Board on a registered adoption agency 

21.   Section 36 (3) refers the Board’s refusal to register any applicant body if “it appears to the Board that any person who takes part in the management or control of the body or who is engaged on its behalf in connection with the making of arrangements for adoption is not a fit and proper person to act.”.   Could you provide a list of

a.      The criteria, applied by the Board to determine, whether a person passes the fit and proper test.

b.      The historic instances, when a person has been deemed by the Board to have failed this test. 

22.   Section 37 refers to cancellation of an adoption society registration “on any ground which would require or entitle the Board to refuse an application for the registration of the society or if it appears to the Board that the requirements of this Act are not being adequately complied with by the society or if an offence under this Act is committed by the society or by any person acting on its behalf.”   Could the Board outline

a.      the grounds, which would require or entitle the Board to refuse an application for the registration of the society

b.      the criteria applied by the Board to determine that the requirements of the Act are not being adhered to

c.       the kinds of offences committed by an agency, which would result in the Board cancelling a registration.

d.      the numbers of occasions that an agency has had its registration cancelled as a result of this section being imposed. 

23.   Could you confirm whether the Board or its officers have ever received a request from a third party under Section 37 to deregister a registered Adoption Agency? (we mean following a complaint and not at the request of an agency itself). 

24.   Could you confirm what administrative procedures would be followed to instigate such a deregistration and whether such steps have ever occurred. 

25.    Could you outline the average duration of the investigation process to deregister an agency. 

Regulation of Agencies 

26.   With regard to Regulation of Agencies, please confirm whether or not an Inspections and Regulations Unit is still in existence/has ever been in existence at the Adoption Board and how many Inspections have occurred over the last decade. [This is one of the areas, we wish to see included in the Annual Report] 

27.   Please confirm the year in which this unit was set up and the staffing and qualifications recommended for the unit in the last Corporate Plan or other relevant document and whether these requirements have been met. 

28.   Please confirm how this unit operates (should operate) and how concerns about an agency are communicated back to the main Board and to the CEO. 

29.   Please confirm the mechanism for commencing a formal investigation into an agency  following the communication of concerns from the Inspections and Regulations Unit back to the CEO and main Board. 

30.   Please confirm the standards in use by this Inspections and Regulations Unit to measure the performance of an agency. 

31.   Please confirm when the “Standards documents” used by this unit were taken down from the Adoption Authority (sic) website 

32.    Please confirm when the “Monitoring Process documents” used by this unit were taken down from the Adoption Authority (sic) website 

33.   Please confirm when the “Monitoring documents” used by this unit were taken down from the Adoption Authority (sic) website 

34.   Please confirm when the “Reports documents” used by this unit were taken down from the Adoption Authority (sic) website 

35.   Please confirm when the “Research documents” used by this unit were taken down from the Adoption Authority (sic) website. 

36.   Please confirm whether any or all of the documents referred to above are available in hard copy or electronic format. If <Y>, could you please forward copies of same to our email address info@adoptionrightsalliance.com and to our postal address shown in our letterhead. 

37.   Please clarify how the Irish Adoption Board’s Inspection Regime compares with our nearest neighbours in the UK  

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“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning . . . and the most disquieting loneliness." 

Alex Haley, Author of Roots 



 

 

 

 

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