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Adoption authorities to audit tracing records 

By Conall O Fátharta

Irish Examiner, Friday, June 11, 2010

THE Adoption Board has confirmed it is to carry out an audit of its information and tracing service records to identify any cases involving illegal activity.

The audit comes following the Irish Examiner’s investigation into the case of Tressa Reeves, whose son was illegally adopted and falsely registered as the natural child of the adoptive parents. This was facilitated by St Patrick’s Guild adoption agency, which remains fully accredited by the Adoption Board, despite it being aware of the case since 2001.

It is understood to be the first such audit of any of the Adoption Board records despite repeated calls from adoption groups for more than a decade.

Both the Adoption Rights Alliance and Adoption Loss – The Natural Parents Network of Ireland have consistently raised concerns about the number of illegal adoptions that have taken place since adoption was made legal here in 1952 and have called for an audit of all of the Adoption Board’s files to ascertain the extent of such illegal practices.

Speaking late last month, chairman of the Adoption Board, Geoffrey Shannon, gave a personal commitment that any cases where irregular or illegal practices occurred would be brought to the attention of the Adoption Board and the gardaí if necessary.

In a statement issued to the Irish Examiner, chief executive of the Adoption Board, John Collins, confirmed an audit of its information and tracing records would take place.

"For clarity, these are illegal registration matters. In the absence of an application to the Board no order would have been made by the Board and therefore no adoption file would exist. Such cases would come to our attention through public queries to our Information and Tracing Service.

"Therefore, the board has decided to carry out an audit of its information and tracing records going back to see if it can identify any further potential cases," he said.

Mr Collins told the Irish Examiner in April the Adoption Board was aware of only one case where a child was placed with an adoptive couple without a formal adoption order having being made and where the birth was falsely registered.

Susan Lohan of the Adoption Rights Alliance said the group were aware of numerous cases of illegal adoptions and called on people with concerns about how their adoption was carried out to come forward.

"We encourage anybody who needs assistance in bringing an illegal adoption or an illegal registration to the attention of the Adoption Board to contact us immediately, even if those people have dealt with the Adoption Board previously," she said.

Chairwoman of Adoption Loss – The Natural Parents Network of Ireland, Bernie Harold, described Mr Collins’ response as "disingenuous in the extreme" and called for an independent review of all files held by the Adoption Board, adoption agencies and the HSE.

"It is not sufficient to confine this laughably described ‘audit’ to the illegalities which have emerged through self-reported cases. Most victims of illegal adoption and false birth registration, whether the mother or the child, have no knowledge of what happened. It usually emerges very late in the day after the ‘adoptive’ parents have passed away. Finally, it is unacceptable that this will effectively be an internal trawl through a tiny proportion of their records by the Adoption Board’s own staff," she said.

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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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