New law would give adopted right to birth cert

Senator Averil Power says adoptees have been ‘robbed of their identities’ for too long

(From left) Senator Jillian van Turnhout, Senator Fidelma Healy Eames and Senator Averil Power during a press briefing where they called on the Government to support their Bill. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins Dublin

(From left) Senator Jillian van Turnhout, Senator Fidelma Healy Eames and Senator Averil Power during a press briefing where they called on the Government to support their Bill. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins Dublin

 

Up to 50,000 adopted people would have the right to their birth cert for the first time under proposed new legislation.

The Bill was produced by Senator Averil Power, who was adopted from a mother-and- baby home, and is co-sponsored by Senators Jillian van Turnhout, a children’s rights campaigner, and Fidelma Healy Eames, an adoptive mother.

Under the Bill every adopted person would have a right to their birth cert listing their original name and their parents’ names. In addition, adoptees and natural parents could choose whether they were happy to have their contact details shared with each other.

However, parents would still have a right to prevent the release of their contact details.

Ms Power (Fianna Fáil) said for too long adopted people have been robbed of their identities and denied basic information about themselves and their parents that others take for granted.

“Thousands of Irish adoptees don’t know their original names, who their parents are or even if there is a serious illness that runs in their family. Not knowing is a source of great pain and anxiety. Our Bill is designed to change this,” she said.

The legislation was drafted by Dr Fergus Ryan, law lecturer at Maynooth University and an expert in family law.

Obtain information

Legislation to enhance the rights of adopted people has been promised by the Government for the past three years.

A spokesman for Minister for Children James Reilly said work was ongoing on a Bill and the Senators’ proposed legislation would be considered.

He said attempting to balance the rights of adoptees and natural parents had thrown up a number of legal issues but it was the Minister’s intention to go as far as legally possible in dealing with the area.

Ms van Turnhout insisted that, under the Constitution and international law, children and adults had a right to information about themselves and their parents.

“That right has been cruelly denied to Irish adoptees for too long. Under the Bill adoptees would be entitled to their birth certs. And where a natural parent does not wish to meet their son or daughter, they may provide them with information such as the family’s medical history,” she said.

Despite provisions aimed at protecting the privacy of natural parents, under the new Bill they could be identified by adoptees who would have access to their birth certs.

However, Ms Healy Eames (Fine Gael) said there was a greater risk of unwanted contact under the current system, given that the new Bill allowed natural parents the opportunity to convey their wishes to their adopted sons or daughters.