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PLEASE NOTE:  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 touch

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 adoption

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 bond.”

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 missing.”

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 birth mothers.

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 adoption@barnardos.ie.

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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“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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