More than 5,000 adopted people are waiting to receive personal information about their birth amid a backlog that may takes months to clear.
Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman has said he is “deeply aware of the disappointment and frustration” because of the delays, and said that more staff are being assigned to work on processing the applications.
In response to queries from The Irish Times, the Department of Children said that 6,474 applications for information have been made, while only 1,375 information cases have been completed, leaving 5,099 people waiting to receive their full records.
An additional 2,948 applications for tracing services have been received until the January 23rd, according to information provided by the department. At the same time 208 matches have been made with relatives.
In terms of the contact preference register, some 3,005 requests have been made. The register is a way for people to state their contact preferences in relation to contact with family, including a request for privacy. 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.
“Officials from my department have been engaging on an ongoing basis with both the AAI [Adoption Authority Of Ireland] and Tusla in respect of the ongoing implementation of services under the Birth Information and Tracing Act 2022,” the Minister said. “Both agencies advise that they are reassigning further additional staff members to work exclusively on processing applications, and that they will continue to keep every person who is waiting for information informed about their application.”
The Department of Children said that the AAI and Tusla have been in touch with applicants regarding the possible timeframes for receipt of their information, and will continue to keep every applicant up to date. Cases are being completed every day, it said.
“The Minister is deeply aware of the disappointment and frustration caused to applicants receiving a notification indicating that there will be a delay in the compilation and release of their information. The Minister has been assured that both agencies are doing their utmost to respond to all the applications received within the shortest possible timeframe.”
The Birth Information and Tracing Act 2022, which was enacted on July 1st, provides legal entitlement to full and unrestricted access to birth certificates, birth, early life, care and medical information for any person who was adopted, boarded out, had their birth illegally registered or who otherwise has questions in relation to their origins.
Those seeking access to their records were originally told to expect to receive their information within 30 days of application unless the case is deemed complex. If it was deemed complex the timeline can be extended to 90 days. However, given the large backlog many adopted people could wait far longer than this to receive the information they have requested.