of complaints mechanism
In Ireland there is no statutory mechanism under which to complain about
the AAI. The Authority is
not covered under the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 to 2003 or the
Ombudsman’s Act 1980. The
Adoption Act 2010 worryingly placed a gagging order on the AAI Chief
Executive which flies in the face of the international move
towards whistleblower legislation, as well as the current Programme for
AAI should develop a Whistleblower’s Charter to apply to AAI staff,
accredited bodies and any third parties with relevant information.
should also be noted that despite repeated attempts by Adoption Rights
Alliance and its predecessors to coordinate a complaints arrangement
with the Adoption Board/Authority, the Board has never sufficiently
risen to the occasion, though in recent meetings with the Chairperson
and CEO, they appeared to accept that Adoption Rights Alliance could
warn them of non-compliant agencies or other worrying trends, though the
issue of complaints against the board itself was not raised.
We have made numerous complaints on behalf of our services users
over the years, none of which have been addressed.
In many instances, the adopted person or natural parent has felt
afraid to approach the Adoption Board/Authority or adoption agency/HSE
themselves, for fear of jeopardising their case, and in other cases, our
service users have simply felt daunted about complaining, hence, there
is a real need for a mechanism to report instances of wrongdoing.
you have a complaint against an adoption agency or the Adoption
or if you are concerned or unsure about how you are being treated, or,
if you even have some feedback to give your agency, please feel free to contact us in
complete confidence at firstname.lastname@example.org
All agencies were asked to conduct themselves in accordance with the
Framework for the Provision of a National Information & Tracing
Service, compiled by the Advisory Group to the Adoption Authority (then
Adoption Board). You
can access the document here.
- Note this document is not available on the Adoption Authority website and
we have yet to receive a satisfactory explanation for this.
your agency is not operating according to these principles or if you are
experiencing any kind of discrimination or prejudice, contact
you are the client and you have the right to be treated with respect and dignity.
are some of the complaints we have gathered over the years:
refusing to carry out traces in cases of illegal adoptions i.e. where a
child is registered as the child of the adoptive parents and the birth
is falsely registered.
the years the Adoption Authority has repeatedly refused to deal with the
issue of illegal adoptions.
withholding non-identifying information such as first names, place of
imposing waiting lists of several years.
discouraging adopted people from tracing, with statements like:
"It can be a very slow process, people have moved and gotten
married" or "We are looking for a lady whose circumstances we
know nothing about - she could be dead - three of the mothers I found
last year were dead"’. “Think of the lives you would be
destroying” (These are
general lack of respect of the adopted person’s desire to trace e.g.
reminding the adopted person that they might hurt their adoptive
parents’ feelings or disrupt their natural mother’s life.
contacting adoptive parents as opposed to the adult adopted
person when a query arrives from the natural mother.
refusing to supply medical information, even in life threatening
drip feeding information as opposed to handing over all available
such as not responding to letters at all or delayed responses to
such as social workers, untrained in genealogy, travelling to the
General Registrar’s Office and carrying out their own research on a
case by case basis.
insisting on face to face meetings with social workers prior to the
release of any information, regardless of whether the person lives in
Ireland or not.
of confidentiality – e.g. we are aware of cases where agencies in the
course of a search have told other natural family members that their
sister or mother or daughter had placed a child for adoption.
providing false or inaccurate information.
failing to put adopted people and natural parents in contact with each
other even in cases where both parties have contacted the agency seeking
Board insisting on the signing of affidavits prior to the release of
birth certificates (a practice now discontinued).
counselling being insisted upon or strongly encouraged, leaving the
adopted person feeling they have no choice in the matter, that the trace
will go slower if they don’t.
people being forced to answer intimate questions from nuns with no
social work qualifications in church run agencies in order to obtain
nun in a church run agency claiming to an adopted person who was
exported to the US for adoption that she cycled from Cork to Kerry,
visited with the person’s natural mother who allegedly told the nun
she was not interested in contact. Our
organisation subsequently provided the adopted person with the
appropriate information and advice and within a few weeks he was happily
reunited with his natural mother.
nun in a church run agency secretly joining adopted people’s online
support groups, copying messages and summoning adopted people who have
complained about her to intimidating meetings.
nun in a church run agency sending threatening legal letters to group
members of adoption organisations warning of litigation.
withholding of or providing misleading information in illegal adoptions
where the adopted person seeks reunion.
telling adopted people and natural parents that it is illegal to trace.
telling adopted people that they cannot trace or receive information
using excuses like “the Irish Law” or the “Secrecy Act”.
workers engaging in “counselling sessions” while failing to inform
the adopted person that they are in fact being assessed as to their
“suitability” to receive information or be reunited.
the case of one of our colleagues who was sent to the US for adoption, a
nun from a church run agency, despite already knowing the natural
mother’s date of birth, managed to contact the wrong woman with a
completely different date of birth.
She also claimed that they had no idea where the natural mother
had gone when she left the mother and baby home, yet the natural mother
received photos of the adopted person post-adoption from the adoption
agency who sent it to the UK.
the same case, the same nun wrote to the adopted person after she had
found her natural mother, harassing her and sharing sensitive private
correspondence from her adoptive mother that the adoptive person felt
she should never have seen, resulting in diminishing an already
degrading relationship between the adopted person and her adoptive
using adopted people to vent their anger at the new Adoption
Authority’s attempts to regulate the system.
church run agency telling an adopted person “you never know, you could
have been born in the UK” – the agency has this information and
could easily give it to the adopted person instead of leaving them
a complaint to add to this list? Contact
don't have a case, I have half
I don't have an issue, I have a life that is incomplete due to the actions of your predecessors and compounded by current agency, state and
I don't have a query, I have a right
I don't have a file, I have a history, an identity and a heritage which I cannot access
Angela Murphy, 2001 (an adopted person)