More than 1,500 adoptees will not receive documents within statutory deadline

Adoption Authority of Ireland said delay is ‘not satisfactory’

More than 1,500 adopted people who applied for personal records related to their birth, early life and medical history will not have their applications processed within the statutory deadline, the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) has confirmed.

The Birth Information and Tracing Act 2022 provides a full and clear right of access to information for a person who was adopted, boarded out, had their birth illegally registered or who otherwise has questions in relation to their origins.

Under the law, even if a biological parent says they do not want their child to get their birth cert or related information, the adopted person will still get access.

Thousands of people have applied to receive the records since the act came into effect in October. They were due to receive their documents within 90 days of application.


The State body said the backlog is expected to be cleared by Autumn 2023, meaning adoptees could be waiting up to a year before receiving their documentation.

In an email sent to adoptees on Friday, Patricia Carey, chief executive of the AAI, said while the body anticipated a “significant surge” of initial applications, the “unprecedented level of this surge has meant we will not be able to respond to all applications within the statutory time frame”.

“Based on our current resourcing, we expect to be able to complete our 200 outstanding applications per month with our backlog cleared by early Autumn of 2023, if not before,” the email states.

“This work is a priority for the authority and we are reassigning additional staff members to work exclusively on responding to applications.”

Speaking to The Irish Times, Ms Carey said the authority has 2,500 applications on hand, with seven staff working full-time. A further four staff are due to start in the coming weeks.

“The file sizes range from a couple of pages, to we had one recently that was over 500 pages. On average, we’re doing about 50 a week, and that comes up to about 200 a month,” she said.

“We felt obliged to tell people as early as possible the disappointing news that unfortunately we wouldn’t be reaching that statutory deadline. I wanted to give people a little bit of time, and I didn’t want to be contacting people just before Christmas. This was the earliest opportunity.”

Ms Carey said while the AAI said the backlog would be cleared by early-Autumn, she expects “a lot of people will get their information a lot earlier than that”.

Ms Carey said they are working through the applications based on the date received.

“As it’s a new process, the authority is very conscious and being very careful that we send people everything they are entitled to receive. We’re probably spending a little bit more time in the early days to get that right,” she said.

Furthermore, a lot of people have queries after receiving their documents, which has added to the workload, Ms Carey added.

“Over 60 per cent of people are coming back to us with queries, understandably. In some instances, there could be 15 or 20 emails from one applicant which is understandable but that is obviously eating into time allocated for other applications.”

She added: “It’s not satisfactory, I’m not happy about it, and I wanted to communicate with people as soon as possible to let them know.”

In a statement, the Department for Children said the Minister is “acutely aware” of the disappointment these delays may cause and wishes to assure people that both agencies are doing their utmost to respond to all the applications received within the shortest possible timeframe.

“Both agencies are re-assigning staff members to work exclusively on processing applications and will continue to keep every person who is waiting for information informed about their application,” the statement added.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times