...regaining identities, histories and rights for adopted people...  

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Sixth Amendment of the Constitution (Adoption) Act, 1979
An Adoption Referendum was held in 1979, two years after it was discovered that adoption orders made by the Adoption Board might not be constitutional because the Board wasn't a court.  This amendment to the Constitution resolved this issue.  The referendum had one of the lowest ever turnouts (28.6%) but had the highest ever vote in favour (99%).  

Click here to download the act

Hague Convention
The Hague Convention for the Protection of Children in Intercountry Adoption is designed to do exactly what it says in the title - protect children in intercountry adoption. The 2010 Adoption Bill ratified the Hague Convention and Adoption Rights Alliance welcomes this.  However, by allowing for bilateral agreements with non-Hague countries which, under the terms of the Bill,  are only required to "have regard for" Hague as opposed to being drawn up "in accordance" with Hague, the Bill waters down the strength and sentiment of the Convention.  Adoption Rights Alliance therefore believes that all bilateral agreements should be outlawed.

Click here to download the text of the Hague Convention

Gaskin v UK
Prior to the I O’T v B judgement, the Gaskin v UK case took place in 1989.  Dr. Ursula Kilkelly argues in her 2004 article The Reform of Adoption Law in Ireland: Ensuring Compliance with International Obligations that “….although Gaskin did not establish a right to access birth information per se, it is of fundamental importance that it established the right to have a claim to this kind of information determined by an independent and impartial authority. While not about adoption, it clearly provides a framework within which claims by adults adopted as children to identifying and non-identifying birth information can be independently and decisively determined.  Dr. Kilkelly went on to say that”This view enjoyed support in the Supreme Court in I’OT v B”.  

Well over a decade after I O’T v B, Irish adopted people are still awaiting legislation to clarify and grant them their information rights.  In practice, the I O’T judgement has been interpreted in the strictest possible manner, penalising the searcher, with little to no regard for the adopted person’s need to establish their identity.  

Mikulic v Croatia
While the I O’T v B case has, wrongly in our opinion, interpreted privacy to mean the privacy of the natural mother, the Mikulic v Croatia case viewed the issue of privacy in a more rounded way.  Dr. Ursula Kilkelly outlined the argument:The applicant argued before the European Court that her right to respect for her private and family life had been violated because the domestic courts had been inefficient in deciding her paternity claim thereby leaving her uncertain as to her personal identity.”

Odièvre v France
In 2003 the Odièvre v France judgement ruled against an adopted person who claimed her rights were being violated under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.  However, this judgement has been widely criticised and we feel, should not be used in considering legislation in the Irish context. 

Excerpt from The Reform of Adoption Law in Ireland: Ensuring Compliance with International Obligations (Dr. Ursula Kilkelly):  
“Rather than acknowledging, as the majority did, that contacting birth parents is a risky process for all parties, the minority view, more correctly it is submitted, recognises the suffering that lack of information about family origins can cause. It thereby coincides more readily with other standards in international law, including both the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which attach importance to the right to birth information. The narrow context of the circumstances prevalent in Odièvre and the apparent flaws in that judgment clearly undermine its value. In any event, the judgment itself does nothing to diminish the well-established precedents of Gaskin and Mikulic, which are entirely consistent with the Court’s emphasis on providing mechanisms within which a fair balance between competing rights may be independently determined. It is to these judgments that attention should turn, therefore, on the issue of birth information and contact.”

“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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