Thursday 27 October 2016

New law to help adopted people identify parents

Senator Averil Power
Senator Averil Power

CAMPAIGNERS for adopted people's right to have information regarding their identity have welcomed a law change which will be cleared by Government tomorrow.

Labour TD Anne Ferris and Independent Senator Averil Power welcomed the move, which will entitle adopted people to access to their birth certificates.

The draft law is also expected to help parents and children make contact with one another - but rules will also be put in place to protect the privacy of people who do not want contact.

Senator Power was herself adopted, and drafted legislation which was in principle accepted by the Government in the Seanad last year.

Precisely a year ago, Ms Ferris made a very moving Dail speech recounting her own story as an adopted person who later as a teenager gave up her own child for adoption.

The Wicklow Labour TD warmly welcomed the draft law and said she was sure it will be enacted before the general election.

"The draft legislation will be put before the Oireachtas soon after the end of the recess in September," she said.

Government officials last night confirmed that the new bill is expected to be cleared by the Cabinet at a special meeting in Lissadell, Co Sligo, tomorrow.

The child and family agency, Tusla, is expected to be charged with overseeing the operation of the new scheme, and many of the details have yet to be finalised.

Senator Power said it was a great shame it took so long for the change in the law as adopted people in Britain have had this right for some 40 years.

She said the primary issue was the right to identity and also to get information on their medical history.


Ms Power said parents, who gave up their child for adoption, and adopted children, were often keen to meet up.

"In some cases people won't wish to have contact and that has to be respected.

"We need to be sensitive to people's needs," she said.

Under current procedures, adoptees have no right to their birth certificate which lists their original parents' names. This is due to various legal obstacles, including the right to privacy under the constitution.

The new Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill will provide for a statutory declaration to be signed by the adopted person seeking the information that they will respect their birth parents' wishes about contact.

Senator Power said the retrospective aspect of the legislation was important as it would extend to some 50,000 adopted people in Ireland.

Ms Power also said support must be made available to people involved in this delicate situation.

The law provides for an adoption register.

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