herald

Friday 28 July 2017

Adopted people 'deserve right to their birth certs'

aDOPTED people will have the right to their birth certs for the first time under proposals contained in a new bill.

Senators Aevril Power, Fidelma Healy Eames and Jillian van Turnhout published the bill at Leinster House, and they are calling on the Government to support it.

Aevril Power was adopted as a baby from a mother and baby home, and Fidelma Eames is an adoptive mother.

Robbed

"For too long adopted people have been robbed of our identities, denied basic information about ourselves and our parents that others take for granted," said Senator Power.

"Thousands of Irish adoptees don't know their original names, who their parents are or even if there is a serious illness that runs in their family. Not knowing is a source of great pain and anxiety. Our bill is designed to change this.

"It also puts in place a system through which adoptees and natural parents can exchange contact details if they so wish," she said.

Under the bill, all adoptees will have a right to their birth certs, listing their original names and their parents' names.

In addition, natural parents can request information about their adopted sons or daughters.

Adoptees and their parents can choose whether they are happy to have their current contact details released to each other.

Under its provisions, mothers could choose to allow health details and other relevant information be passed onto the adopted person, even when they opt not to have direct contact.

"Under both the Irish constitution and international law, children and adults have a right to information about themselves and their parents," said Senator Van Turnhout.

"That right has been cruelly denied to Irish adoptees for too long. Under this bill, adoptees will now be entitled to their birth certs.

"And where a natural parent does not wish to meet their son or daughter, they may provide them with information such as the family's medical history so the adoptee is aware of any serious inherited health risks", said the Senator who was the former head of the Children's Rights Alliance.

Meanwhile, Senator Healy Eames said that as an adoptive parent, she is supportive of adoptees having information about their natural parents and their birth identity after they turn 18.

Sensitive

"However, I am anxious that this information be provided in a way that is sensitive to the needs of the adopted person and their natural parents.

"I believe that this Bill, with its emphasis on supporting both parties, is the right approach," she added.

The bill was drafted by Dr Fergus Ryan, a law lecturer at Maynooth University with a particular expertise in family law, constitutional law and human rights.

He said the legislation vindicates the adoptee's right to an identity, while also respecting the mother's right to privacy, achieving a balancing of rights.

Dr Ryan added that the legislation establishes a "structured and supportive process."

fdillon@herald.ie

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