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Historic adoptees will not have legal right to trace parents

By Claire O’Sullivan

Irish Examiner, Friday, June 03, 2011

ADULTS who were put up for adoption when they were babies are not going to be given legal entitlement to trace their natural parents, according to the Minister for Children.

For the past decade adoption groups have been lobbying for legislation giving rights on family information and tracing.

A public consultation process in 2003 recommended putting tracing and reunion services on a legislative footing. In Britain, the 1975 Children’s Act allowed for adopted people to receive unhindered access to their original records and adoption files on turning 18.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio, Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she thinks it "would be very difficult" to provide tracing rights in the case of historic adoptions.

"I think that would be very difficult and there will be people who will be very disappointed hearing that.

"However, what I think we need to do in the meantime is, we need to build up very good services now where people who do want to trace [in the future, will] have access to high quality counselling and information on both sides — for the mother who has given up the child and the person who is looking for information."

Since those comments Claire Mc Gettrick’s phone has not stopped ringing. She is a co-founder of the Adopted Rights Alliance.

"We were absolutely disgusted that in a throwaway comment like that the minister acted as if the past 10 years had not happened.

"We had been under the impression that this issue would be dealt with under the children’s rights referendum as this would give all children a right to an identity," she said.

"I think the minister revealed that she too suffers from an underlying prejudice that is out there — a prejudice that all adopted mothers need in some way to be protected from their adopted children.

"If a mother doesn’t want to meet her grown-up child but the child can get access to her medical history, the vast, vast majority of adopted people will just walk away."  

This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Friday, June 03, 2011

Clarification:  There is a slight error in the last two quotations above.  The first quotation should read "that all NATURAL mothers need in some way to be protected from their adopted children." The second should read "history" as opposed to "medical history" and it relates to the argument that legislation is not required to "protect" natural parents from their adult children.

Please note:  Adoption Rights Alliance fully understands that the misquote was entirely unintentional on Claire O'Sullivan's part and we are very appreciative of the Irish Examiner's coverage of the topic.


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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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