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Adoption files still not available two years after Government promise

Marie O'Halloran, Irish Times, October 9, 2013

A woman who spent 30 years trying to trace her adopted daughter could have found her much sooner if available records had been made accessible, the Dáil has been told.

Independent TD Clare Daly said there were thousands of women in a similar situation.

Two years after 25,000 adoption files had been transferred to Co Cork, to be made available to those trying to trace relatives, they were still not accessible despite Government promises, she said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny told Ms Daly that if the files were inaccessible, “a structure needs to be put in place where that can happen”.

Ms Daly highlighted the case of a woman who traced her daughter within 10 days through the Adoption Rights Alliance, but who had spent 30 years dealing with the authorities and religious orders.

She was told they did not have the information and that her daughter’s adoptive families did not wish to know her.

Ms Daly said the woman contacted her 10 days ago, desperately seeking help in trying to locate her daughter, because she had had cancer twice and wanted her daughter to be aware of her medical history.

Her daughter was born in Castlepollard mother and baby home in 1966. The woman never consented to her daughter’s adoption and never signed adoption papers and the adoption was registered as legal despite this. While she later married and had four other children, she continued to search for her daughter.

The Dublin North TD contacted the Adoption Rights Alliance and within 10 days, they had traced the woman’s daughter, now 47, who was absolutely delighted to meet her birth mother. Ms Daly said she was “boiling mad” because “the information was always there but individuals and organisations consciously and deliberately withheld it from those who had a right to know”.

Mr Kenny said he did not know how many of the 25,000 people, mothers or children, were actively looking for one another. He would ask the Minister for Children to meet Ms Daly and the Adoption Rights Alliance, to see if what the TD outlined in this case applied to other cases.

Mr Kenny expressed his regret that it had taken such a situation for Ms Daly to raise it in the Dáil but he described it as an “important, sensitive and personal issue”.

Ms Daly said this was a happy ending but “there are thousands of others where the ending is not so happy”. People had spent a lifetime searching, in some cases to find that a parent had died.

In September 2011, she said, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald had told her the Sacred Heart files had been transferred to Glanmire, Co Cork, and a system was in place to manage and help people get the records. However two years later, Ms Fitzgerald said the HSE was not in a position to respond “but that it was planning to reorganise its approach to dealing with the matter”.

“This is not good enough. This knowledge has been in the Government’s hands for a long time,” Ms Daly said. Crimes had been committed against people whose identities had been withheld from them.

She said the Adoption Rights Alliance should be “involved in sorting out what is demonstrably a crisis in people being able to access their files”.

© 2013 irishtimes.com

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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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