Volunteers (sometimes referred to as "Search Angels")
As people set out to search for natural relatives, some are in a
position where they are unable to get to the Research Room at the
General Registrar’s Office and in these instances, some people have
been fortunate enough to receive help from volunteers, sometimes
referred to as “Search Angels”. We would like to gently remind
people of some do’s and don’ts when it comes to volunteers.
Only use a volunteer if you absolutely have to
First and foremost, please bear in mind that people who assist in
other's searches are volunteers. They are not employed by anyone
and they give of their time to help people who are unable to go to the
Research Room for themselves.
Volunteers will not necessarily have a lot of spare time and they offer
the time they do have because they know that some people genuinely
cannot travel to the Research Room. Therefore we strongly urge you
to think before asking a volunteer to help. If you are based in Ireland,
take a day or two off work rather than asking someone else to do it.
Please note: In
this regard, Adoption Rights Alliance has been lobbying for Tracing and
Information Leave so that adopted people and natural parents do not have
to use their annual leave to do their traces.
In the meantime however, please do not abuse other people’s free time
and take responsibility for your own trace. Adoption is a process
that removes power from people and therefore owning your own trace is of
Respect for volunteers' privacy/time
We would also ask you to not pass volunteers’ contact details to other
people – firstly ensure that the person concerned is genuinely not in
a position to do the work themselves and then before passing on contact
details (even email addresses) please check with the volunteer first, as
it is unfair to put someone in a difficult position where they might
want to decline, but feel unable to as the person has been referred to
Volunteers are not paid for their work so please don't leave them out of
pocket and make sure that their expenses are covered. Don’t assume
that the volunteer will have the money up front and offer the basic
costs up front before the person travels to the Research Room.
Volunteers in turn should supply receipts and furnish any certificates
to the adopted person/natural relative once payment has been received.
Please bear in mind
that photocopies at the Research Room are €4 each and a General Search
fee is €20, so going through a process of elimination (e.g. to obtain
an adopted person’s birth certificate) can be quite costly. There are
also parking expenses - usually €20-30 a day in Dublin and fuel
expenses, not to mention lunch etc, so please bear all this in mind.
Agree Spending Limits
We also recommend that you agree a spending limit with your
volunteer prior to any money being spent by that volunteer.
Volunteers should not spend more than €10/€20 without checking with
the person they are assisting.
On the other side of the coin, people should beware of inexperienced
volunteers, who may mean well, but are not necessarily very capable in
terms of searching skills. It is absolutely essential that you are
in control of your own trace at each stage of the journey and volunteers
should bear this in mind. E.g. if you need to take a break after
obtaining information and before making contact, then this is your
choice to make and volunteers should respect that.
We strongly recommend that adopted people and natural parents should
never arrive on the doorstep of the person they are searching for.
We suggest a discreet letter rather than calling in person or on the
phone. Adoption Rights Alliance categorically disapproves of
search volunteers going to the houses of the people they are tracing.
We recommend that those receiving help from search volunteers make their
wishes very clear in this regard.
If you are contacted by someone offering help who you are unsure of,
send an email in complete confidence to firstname.lastname@example.org
if you want to double check if a particular person is known to us or
not. You should also beware of people offering their services for
a fee and ensure that they will conduct an ethical trace and that you
will retain control of the trace.
Remember, it is important to ensure that the person conducting a search
is responsible and has the necessary experience and knowledge to ensure
that a trace is carried out in an ethical, discreet and thorough
Finally we remind people that we advise against using Private
Investigators, who, in our experience, are usually neither trained nor
experienced in the area of adoption and will often employ methods that
are completely unsuitable to adoption traces.
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