Calls to release Irish adoption records
Two women who were “illegally” adopted at birth have called on the Minister for Children to release State records which would enable them to find their biological mothers.
Theresa Tinggal and Maria Dumbell travelled to Dublin from the United Kingdom to hand a letter to Frances Fitzgerald asking her to make available records relating to informal adoptions in the 1950s.
Ms Tinggal and Ms Dumbell estimate housands of children were taken from women deemed unfit for parenthood and put up for adoption during the 20th century.
“[I was] not adopted in the normal sense, but informally or illegally,” Ms Tinggal said. “I was handed over to my adoptive parents at two-days-old and then registered as their legal child.”
She discovered she was adopted a decade ago when, aged 48, she was told by a family relative. “Since then I have been searching relentlessly,” she said at a press conference in Dublin. “I still haven’t discovered my birth mother or discovered the circumstances surrounding my birth.”
Ms Dumbell found out she was adopted when she applied for a passport aged 20. When she requested a copy of her birth certificate for the application, she was told by Custom House that no such certificate existed under her name.
Both women pursued the Health Board for files which would help them to establish the circumstances of their births but received only partial records. The board granted Ms Tinggal documentation of her life from the age of two to 16 years, the last statement of which read: “Theresa still doesn’t know that she is adopted”.
Ms Dumbell received a similar document covering her life from the age of 14 months.
Ms Tinggal and Ms Dumbell said they have been frustrated by the HSE, which has told them it cannot legally release files relating to informal adoptions. Many of the records are currently in private hands, namely religious and other societies.
Independent Dublin North TD Clare Daly joined the women in calling for the drafting of legislation to allow for the release of the records.
“It is known that these records exist,” she said. "All the powers of the State should be used immediately… to ensure that the children taken from their mothers can find their mothers’ details.
“It is not good enough to talk about guaranteeing children’s rights in a new referendum if we continue to ignore children failed in the past.”