More than 400 applications to adoption authority for information

Reformed system gives people much greater access to information about their early life and family

More than 400 applications for birth information were made to the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) on Monday, under a new system facilitating adopted people to apply for greater access to information about their early life.

From early Monday, adopted people, those who were boarded out, or had their birth illegally registered, or are related to them, could apply to access full information about their birth and early lives, as well as sign up to a reformed tracing service.

People were able to apply for information from the AAI, as well as Tusla, the State child and family agency, who also hold adoption records.

The AAI said by 5pm on Monday it had received 402 applications for information. The authority said the vast majority of applications (378) came from people who were living in Ireland. Applications from people based in other countries included those living in the UK, the United States, Germany, and Australia.

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On Monday morning Tusla said it was dealing with “technical difficulties” that had prevented adopted people outside of Ireland and the UK from signing up to the new system.

A spokeswoman for Tusla said the technical problems had been resolved after a number of hours.

“In any new application with high volume activity there can be early challenges and we very much apologise for any inconvenience. We have tried to follow up with as many people as possible,” she said.

Claire McGettrick, co-founder of the Adoption Rights Alliance, said the teething problems affecting people overseas signing up to the service were “unacceptable”.

Ms McGettrick said she had been contacted by a number of people from the United States who had been unable to register on the Tusla portal as they had US phone numbers.

“It hasn’t been a great start. Quite reasonably, trust levels are extremely low. I would really like to be proven wrong,” she said.

Separately, several other people complained on social media that they had not received confirmation emails from Tusla to complete their registration on the online system.

“It may also be the case that some people are not receiving emails issued to them and we would urge people to check their spam filter and if there is still a difficulty to contact us directly,” the agency’s spokeswoman said.

Tusla was receiving “a very understandable and welcome high level of interest” for the new service, she said.

“The agency intends to monitor the new processes for the coming week and will then give a full assessment to the public as to the progress and what will inevitably be early challenges,” the spokeswoman said.

The new information and tracing system, giving people much greater access to information about their early life and family, was brought in under the Birth Information and Tracing Act, passed by the Oireachtas earlier this year.

Previously, when someone who had been adopted, boarded out or subject to an illegal birth registration applied for information about their past, the records were often heavily redacted. This was due to the right of other individuals to privacy taking precedence, prior to the new legislation rebalancing rights in favour of people receiving information.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said extra staff had been provided to deal with the expected increase in demand for the services.

There needed to be a culture change in favour of disclosing more information to adopted people, as in the past the policy had been to redact information, such as details on birth certs, Mr O’Gorman told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a media monitor and reporter