Alliance Opinion Piece:
Unlike horses, we've no
right to a birth cert
Irish Examiner, 20th April
Adopted people have no legal
rights to their birth certificates and will most likely remain ignorant
of their natural parents, writes Susan Lohan and Claire McGettrick.
2nd March 2010, in response to a parliamentary question as to
why the tracing and information rights of adopted people and natural
parents had been excluded from the 2009 Adoption Bill, Minister for
Children Barry Andrews said that there is ‘an effective administrative
system in place to deal with the issue of adoption information and
tracing’. Had the Minister
taken the trouble to read his predecessor, Brian Lenihan’s
recommendations following a costly national public consultation
or any of the Adoption Board’s annual reports over the last two
decades, he would not have made such a dishonest statement considering
that Ireland’s 42,000+ adopted people have so far been unsuccessful in
achieving the same level of family tracing as the country’s race horse
recommendations included the setting up a National Contact Preference
Register, a National Adoption Records Index, a National Adoption
Information and Tracing Service on a
statutory basis and to grant the new Adoption Authority the
power to seize adoption records where an agency was dilatory in carrying
out traces or releasing information.
None of these provisions have been included in the proposed bill.
racehorses, adopted people have no legal rights to their birth
certificates and will most likely remain ignorant of their natural
parentage for their entire lives. They also have no right to know that
they are adopted, no right to information on their natural family
members, no right (and more importantly no information) to make contact
with those same family members; the sort of rights enjoyed by adopted
people in the UK since the early 1970’s and in most other developed
people routinely experience year long waiting lists to even see a
registered adoption agency staff member who is just as likely to be the
society’s administrator rather than a qualified social worker.
They experience unconscionable delays in accessing vital
information leading e.g. to the endangerment of a sick child’s life
for want of medical information held on his mother’s adoption file.
These delays, whether by design, incompetence or convenience, by
adoption agencies are used to cover up past illegalities, which in the
worst cases prevent or delay reunions until a parent or child has died.
Mike Millotte in the epitaph to his excellent 1997 book “Banished
Babies” on the 2100+ Irish children trafficked to the US by church run
Irish adoption agencies, more accurately describes this “effective”
service as “deny till they die”.
adopted people lucky enough to have a face to face meeting with an
agency worker commonly experience dishonesty, intimidation, false and
inaccurate information, bungled searches and breaches of confidentiality
(where agency workers inform and seek the views of the adopted adult’s
adoptive parents before releasing any information).
an unusual turn of events, a government department
– the Department of Health and Children – and its junior
Minister – finds itself working in tandem with conservative church
bodies, each striving to ensure that adoption files remain resolutely
closed; the church backed adoption agencies for fear of revealing their
involvement with illegal adoptions and Minister Andrews for fear of
committing the State to expensive overseas search and reunion services
as the first of the 4,500 children adopted into Ireland from overseas
reach maturity over the next five years.
No qualms for Minister Andrews in allowing the church free reign
over this area of social policy…..
too for the Adoption Board whose website section covering “(Agency)
Standards and Inspection” has displayed the message “Nothing to
display” for months. In a parallel move, the detailed document,
Framework for a National Adoption Tracing and Information Service
produced by an Advisory group of adopted people, natural and adoptive
parents four years ago has also disappeared from the website and we have
been told by some insiders that certain social workers are refusing to
adhere to the standards set out therein – a perfect example of what
happens when service is not placed on a statutory basis.
a recent debate on the proposed 2009 Adoption Bill, Minister Andrews
informed a Joint Oireachtas Health and Children committee that he had
excluded any statutory provision
for Information and Tracing rights for Ireland's 42,000+ adopted people
and their 80,000+ natural parents because the
Adoption Board staff hadn’t yet learned enough about inter-country
adoption aspects of tracing and they wanted to bring both aspects into
legislation simultaneously. What
efficiency measure next? Perhaps
the Mater Hospital will suspend their kidney transplant programme until
they have mastered the intricacies of combined lung, heart and liver
Barry Andrews has ignored the advice of most of the main players in
adoption and children’s rights including adopted people, natural
parents, adoptive parents, Barnardos, the Council of Irish Adoption
Agencies, the Children’s Rights Alliance as well as the Ombudsman for
Children – all of whom have called on Minister Andrews to include
information and tracing in the proposed Adoption Bill.
This out-of-touch minister does not have to suffer the anguish of
not knowing from which family he hails – he and his relatives have
access not only to ordinary public records but also to the expertise of
the professional family researchers on the excellent “Who Do You Think
You Are?” programme, which recently traced the lineage of the Andrews
and Tubridy families.
people also can’t enjoy the same level of genealogy services that are
made readily available and advertised to the Irish Diaspora scattered
around the globe – perhaps our histories and heritages are worth less
or is that worthless?
this 2009 Adoption Bill is passed in its present form, the voluntary
organisations, who have been picking up the slack for successive Irish
governments due to the lack of legislation will be committed to a
further twenty years dealing with the emotional fall-out of legislative
failure and this time ignorance will be no defence.
It seems clear to us that Barry Andrews has no interest in doing
the right thing and he therefore has no place in the office of Minister
Lohan and Claire McGettrick are co-founders of Adoption Rights Alliance,
which campaigns to ensure that the rights of the adopted child and the
rights of Ireland's 42,000+ adult adopted people are protected in
If you suspect you were illegally adopted or for general information
contact Adoption Rights Alliance at: www.adoptionrightsalliance.com
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