Adoptees battle to get
copies of birth certificates
By Patricia McDonagh
Irish Independent, Monday September 27 2010
ALMOST half of all
adopted people who applied for a copy of their original birth
certificate in recent years have not received the vital document.
Just 244 birth
certificates were released by the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI),
despite 485 applications being received between 2004 and 2009.
Some 205 of the 241
unapproved applications were passed to private adoption agencies for
permission, and have yet to be answered.
The revelation last
night sparked outrage from adoption campaigners who branded the current
situation as "disgraceful".
Adopted people here
have no legal entitlement to their birth certificate or other personal
or medical information in their adoption file.
The 1952 Adoption Act
introduced a "clean break" process, which insisted the
mother's right to privacy was paramount in any requests for information.
This right was later reinforced by a Supreme Court judgment.
Susan Lohan of the
Adoption Rights Alliance said she was "gobsmacked" at the
figures. "The rest of the population would find it astonishing if
they had to get their parents' permission to access their birth
legislation needs to be provided to change the current situation. A
birth cert is a crucial document. Not being able to access it places a
block on people's lives."
A birth certificate may
include the name and the address of the natural mother and, if so, under
Irish law she must be consulted. The application will only be approved
if she agrees or has passed away.
The AAI must write to
the private adoption agency from which the child was adopted to contact
There is no waiting
list for applications in the Adoption Board, but waiting times exist
within the agencies and this can range from a few weeks to two years.
The situation in
Ireland is in contrast to many other European countries, which allow
adopted people to access information about their past from a very young
governments have refused to legislate to give adopted people the right
to information that could help them to trace their biological parents.
A new bill has been
promised to deal with the situation, but no date has been given for its
Last year just 25 out
of 80 birth certificate applications were approved -- with 45 of the
unapproved applications awaiting a report from the adoption agency. In
2008, 28 out of 90 applications were approved, with 58 awaiting
information from adoption agencies. And in 2007 just 38 out of 73
applications were approved, with 30 referred to adoption agencies.
Last night the AAI
insisted its hands were tied because of the current legislative
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