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Cautious welcome to
work on adoption law
By Conall O Fátharta
Irish Examiner, Monday,
November 15, 2010
confirmation that work has started on tracing and information
legislation for adopted people and natural parents has a received a
cautious welcome from adoption support groups.
Speaking at the
introduction of the new Adoption Act which took effect at the beginning
of the month, Minister for Children Barry Andrews confirmed work had
begun on preparing legislation in conjunction with the Adoption
Authority of Ireland (AAI).
Chairman of the AAI Geoffrey Shannon also stressed the need for a
separate piece of legislation to deal with the issue of tracing and
information and acknowledged "the huge importance in the
preservation of one’s identity and access to birth records".
Susan Lohan of the Adoption Rights Alliance said despite the commitment
to new legislation, there had yet to be any engagement with stakeholders
on the issue.
"We were part of the group that advised setting up the National
Adoption Contact Preference Register (NACPR) and the and National
Information and Tracing Service. As we expected, the NACPR has had
limited success since. It has had just 420 matches out of 150,000
adopted people and natural parents. It was intended to be a stop gap
measure but here we are living with it for the past five years."
"How can the Adoption Authority engage with the minister on tracing
and information when it has not engaged with stakeholders yet? There is
a complete lack of engagement on this issue," she said.
Chairwoman of Adoption Loss – The Natural Parents Network of Ireland
Bernie Harold also greeted the minister’s announcement with some
"We participated in an adoption ‘consultation process’ in the
early 2000s under the previous minister for children Brian Lenihan in
which we were given 10 places for natural mothers at a conference of 200
"We then participated on an advisory group at the Adoption Board
for three years which devised the NACPR and guidelines for adoption
agency social workers in information and tracing. The social workers
have since refused to implement those guidelines. The department has
failed to explain why three years of our voluntary input has been
jettisoned in this way," she said.
Adoption groups have been lobbying for legislation on information and
tracing for more than a decade.
A national public consultation process in 2003, under Mr Andrews’
predecessor Brian Lenihan, recommended tracing and reunion services on a
This consultation led to a controversial Adoption Bill which sunk
without trace after the government had suggested criminalising adopted
people for tracing their natural mother without consent.
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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
Alex Haley, Author of Roots