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Law to aid birth parent
Sarah McInerney, The Sunday Times
Sunday 19th February 2012
LEGISLATION to help adopted people trace their birth parents will be
introduced by the government in tandem with the children's referendum this
year, writes Sarah McInerney.
There are an estimated 50,000 adopted people living in Ireland. Frances
Fitzgerald, the children's minister, has not ruled out the prospect of the
legislation applying retrospectively.
Fitzgerald said the laws, which will give adopted children access to their
birth certificates, will be taken through the Oireachtas at the
"earliest opportunity". She said: "The bill will provide for
proactive tracing and reunion services by appropriate bodies for adopted
adults, birth mothers and birth families."
Last year Fitzgerald suggested any laws on tracing birth parents would be
"very difficult" to apply to historical adoptions. A spokeswoman
for her department said last week there is "ongoing work" to see
if this can be done in the new bill.
Claire McGettrick of the Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) said that while the
promise of tracing legislation is welcome, it would be useless unless it
could apply retrospectively. "It won't help the 50,000 adopted people
currently being prohibited from accessing their birth certificates,"
McGettrick said adopted people in Ireland have been refused access to their
birth certificates on the basis that the birth mother's rights in the
constitution, including the right to privacy, have been deemed to have
greater weight than the right of the child to know their identity.
The children's referendum will seek to strengthen the rights of children in
the constitution, a measure the ARA believes overcome the constitutional
right of a mother to privacy.
Irish adoptees have fewer rights than their counterparts in Britain, where
the 1975 Children Act allowed adopted people to receive unhindered access to
their original records and adoption files on turning 18.
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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