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U-turn on adoption tracing rights
By Conall Ó Fátharta
Irish Examiner, Monday, January 23, 2012
Retrospective information and tracing rights are to be offered in the
upcoming Adoption Bill, in a significant U-turn by Minister for Children
The move has been broadly welcomed by groups representing adopted
people, who had feared that tracing and information rights were only to
be offered in relation to future adoptions.
Ms Fitzgerald seemed to confirm these fears last year in a radio
interview with Pat Kenny, when she said such rights could only be
offered going forward.
However, in a meeting last October with representatives of the Adoption
Rights Alliance (ARA), Ms Fitzgerald said that the heads of the Adoption
(Information and Tracing) Bill were being prepared and would
"provide for information relating to adoptions which have taken
place prior to the commencement of the Act".
The minister stressed these rights would be made available subject to
the constitutional rights of the persons involved.
"In relation to the balancing of rights, the assistance and advice
of the Office of the Attorney General in the development of the
legislation is being sought," she said.
ARA have repeatedly said the conservative interpretation by agency and
HSE social workers of the I O’T v B judgement, as well as outdated
attitudes towards adopted people and their natural parents, have had a
detrimental effect on the release of information to adopted people.
Susan Lohan of ARA also welcomed plans by Ms Fitzgerald to centralise
adoption records but urged the minister to ensure that all files
containing information on adopted people’s origins be included, such
as mother and baby home files, private agency files, HSE files,
Department of Foreign Affairs files, GP files and nursing home files.
"The safeguarding of all files is of the greatest importance,
particularly for those who had been illegally adopted," said Ms
"A new Adoption Information Bill would mark the end of an almost
60-year delay in legislating for adoption information rights. When it is
considered that the first people adopted under the 1952 Act turned 18 in
1970, we can only hope it will be worth waiting for," she said.
Ireland is decades behind other countries in tracing and legislation.
The right to birth records has existed in Scotland since 1930, England
and Wales since 1976 and the North since 1987.
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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