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Adoption body still refers tracing clients to unaccredited agency

By Conall Ó Fátharta

Irish Examiner, Monday, May 14, 2012

The Adoption Authority is still referring adopted people tracing their natural parents to an agency that is not legally allowed provide any related service.

St Brigid’s Adoption Society in Dublin holds the records and personal information of more than 1,000 people whose adoptions it arranged.

St Brigid’s is no longer an accredited agency, and the AAI confirmed that it was "no longer offering an information and tracing service."

However, a number of people adopted through St Brigid’s have told the Irish Examiner the AAI was still directing people to contact St Brigid’s with tracing and information enquiries.

The AAI has stressed it referred people to St Brigid’s simply so it could be recorded that they wished to start a trace.

"Referrals made are not for the purpose of tracing, since the former society is not entitled to trace, but simply... to record that the person wishes to commence a trace when the files are transferred to the HSE. This position is made clear by the AAI to persons enquiring," said a statement.

Along with Sacred Heart Adoption Society in Cork, St Brigid’s caused outrage amongst adopted people when it emerged it declined to apply for accreditation under the Adoption Act last year. They were not compelled to do so under the legislation.

The AAI admitted that, as the adoption files "were private property in private ownership", it had "no statutory role or function in the matter".

In Aug 2011, the AAI said St Brigid’s had written to the HSE with a view to transferring its files to their ownership. However, as of last week, this has not yet happened.

Commenting on the fact that people were still being referred to St Brigid’s, Susan Lohan of the Adoption Rights Alliance said such files were adopted people’s only source of information and a reunion was virtually impossible without access to them.

"We are gravely concerned that, a year and a half after the commencement of the Adoption Act, neither of these bodies — the AAI or HSE — has seen fit to create an efficient process for the safeguarding of these vital files and the provision of continued access to them for search and reunion services," 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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