: While Adoption Rights
Alliance encourages people to register with the National Adoption Contact
Preference Register (NACPR), it would be remiss of us to allow people
tracing to get the wrong impression from the article above. The NACPR
has never been operated in the manner first envisaged in that it has not
been widely publicised (apart from the initial coverage), we have not seen
it advertised internationally and the promise of an additional mailout of
leaflets in 2007 never happened.
Adoption Rights Alliance
also takes issue with the manner in which people matched on the NACPR are
automatically sent to their adoption agency (now known as "accredited
bodies") for the reunion to be processed. We encourage people to
not be afraid to object to their adoption agency's involvement if this is
something they are not comfortable with.
The NACPR is a useful tool
in the search process, but it does not mean that the Adoption Authority is
tracing for your family member. Should you wish to trace, please visit
our Search and Reunion page here.
Birth fathers can get in
SHEILA WAYMAN, Irish Times,
Tue, Mar 01, 2011
There is now more support
and help available for fathers looking to trace a child given up for
MARK ALWAYS had the
“burning hope” that one day he would be reunited with his daughter who
was given up for adoption in the 1980s. “You fantasise how it might work
out,” he says.
He and his girlfriend were
both 20 when she became pregnant, and it was very much her and her
parents’ decision that the baby be put up for adoption.
“From the birth
father’s perspective you do feel a bit sidelined in the whole thing,” he
says. Yet he admits that allowing himself to be excluded from the decision,
and supporting his girlfriend in what she decided, was the easy option.
“It is not something I am particularly proud of at the moment.”
For every one of the nearly
50,000 children adopted in Ireland since the introduction of legal adoption
in 1952, there was a birth father. Yet theirs is an unwritten story – the
focus is always on birth mothers and their yearning to be reunited with the
baby they gave away.
There is a belief, Mark
suggests, that after adoption the father can forget and walk away. “My
experience was the complete opposite. For me, there was always a huge
Many years later, he and
his girlfriend got married and had several more children together. Becoming
parents again “gives you a different perspective on the consequences of
the decision you made. You get to experience what you imagined you were
The Barnardos post-adoption
service regularly holds support meetings for birth mothers, but on March
10th it is hosting a confidential meeting for birth fathers. It currently
sees only about 10 birth fathers a year compared to between 150 and 200
While many difficulties
that fathers face in contacting their children are similar to those of
mothers, there are issues that are specific to men, says Andrew Walker,
project co-ordinator with the post-adoption service.
Up to the 1980s, very
little information was recorded about birth fathers in adoption, often
nothing at all. Men can carry a lot of guilt and regret about their
inability to be a strong father figure, as well as anger at having little or
no say in the matter.
“Their memories are of
being sidelined, that it was very much beyond their control,” explains
Walker. “It was the authorities’ decision, the mothers’ decision, and
not the birth fathers’.”
There are also men who
never knew they had a child who was adopted until they were found by an
adoptee working through an agency, or on information provided by the mother.
Birth parents, adopted
people over 18 and their relatives can sign up to the National Adoption
Contact Preference Register, which was established in 2005 to facilitate
contact between adoptees and their natural families. They indicate what
level of contact they want, ranging from none or exchange of medical
information only, to contact by letter or a willingness to meet. Only if
both sides register is any action taken – 472 matches were made in 2009.
There are more than 9,000
people on the register, of whom about two-thirds are adoptees. Of the other
third, roughly 12 per cent are birth fathers, based on figures from a 2007
analysis of the register, according to a spokesman for the Adoption
Authority of Ireland.
Mark and his wife put their
names on the register as soon as it was set up and two years ago were
reunited with their first child. “We have a relationship now and hopefully
that will continue.”
He will be sharing his
experiences at next week’s meeting, where there will be information for
fathers who don’t know where to start, as well as support and advice on
potential pitfalls for those progressing to a possible reunion.
“It is a complicated
situation with a whole host of possible outcomes. That is part of the reason
for having the group,” says Walker. “A lot of them may not have thought
about what the outcomes might be: we talk them through it.”
To any birth father
considering trying to trace a child, Mark says: “It has been hugely
positive meeting our daughter again. That is not to say there is not huge
risk involved and it may not work out the way you want.
“In my personal
experience, that was a risk you would take in a heartbeat.”
The meeting for birth
fathers will take place on March 10th at Barnardos, Christchurch Square,
Dublin 8. To book a place, contact Áine O’Leary at 01-4530355 or send an
e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Barnardos post-adoption
service runs a confidential helpline from 10am to 1pm on Tuesdays and
Thursdays: 01- 4546388. See also barnardos.ie
© 2011 The Irish Times
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