Birth records: Legal complexities of access for adopted people outlined

Zappone explains difficulties with Bill for searchable electronic database for adopted

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has told the Fine Gael parliamentary party of difficulties enacting legislation to give adopted people access to their birth records.

Ms Zappone was invited before the party’s weekly parliamentary party meeting to discuss the controversial Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill which is currently on hold.

She told TDs of a letter she received in recent days from a woman who said she was living in fear of the legislation being enacted.

The woman had given up her child and was fearful that the legislation would not give her a say on whether she could be contacted or not.


Ms Zappone told TDs of difficulties drafting the law as she attempts to work through the more controversial aspects with Attorney General Seamus Woulfe.

Tracing facility

The legislation has been dogged by controversy since its introduction in the Seanad two years ago. The Bill aims to establish a statutory scheme for information and tracing for adopted people with the creation of a searchable electronic database for the records that would become the responsibility of the Adoption Authority of Ireland.

One of its most trenchantly criticised provisions, since removed, required adopted people to sign an undertaking that, in order to receive their birth information, they would not contact their birth parents.

Under a subsequent plan, it was decided that contact would be made with all birth parents to find out whether they have any objection to the birth information being released. Where the parent does not consent to the release of the information, both parties will be given the opportunity to make their case before the Adoption Authority of Ireland.

Party issues

During the Fine Gael meeting on Wednesday evening, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also referred to “unwelcome distractions” and internal party issues that have cropped up in recent weeks.

Although one source present said he did not refer to any incident in particular, it was thought he was referring to the controversies around Dún Laughaire TD Maria Bailey and Waterford TD John Deasy.

Mr Varadkar told TDs and Senators he intended to deal with internal party issues before and during the recess so the party could return to normal after the summer.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times