Adoption campaigners criticise contact veto plan

Adoption rights campaigners have said that allowing natural mothers a veto on contact would set back tracing rights "more than a decade".

Groups representing both adopted people and natural mothers hit out at the proposal, which was mooted at an Adoption Authority information and tracing conference at the end of last month.

Geoffrey Shannon, the authority’s chairman, told the conference that “a veto device could be used as a mechanism” to deal with retrospective tracing rights for adopted people, similar to that used in Alberta, Canada.

“It’s about looking at other models and picking the best models to suit our particular situation,” said Mr Shannon. “What we need in terms of legislation is we need clarity around the right to non-identifying information, the right to identifying information, but allied with that we need adequately resourced professional services.”

Adoption Rights Alliance co- founder Susan Lohan said the continuing discussion of a veto for natural mothers not wanting contact could set the adoption tracing issue back “more than a decade”.

“We had this debate more than a decade ago,” said Ms Lohan. “It assumes that mothers either asked for confidentiality or were given guarantees of confidentiality. For Adoption Rights Alliance, the use of the expression is repugnant as it sets us up as some sort of threatening group of people, as was the case in 2003 when the Government tried to introduce a bill criminalising adopted people for contacting their natural mother.”

Ms Lohan said a veto on contact could not be used as a veto on information and said there was already a plethora of protections within existing legislation to protect people from unwarranted contact from any person.

Chair of Adoption Loss/the Natural Parents Network of Ireland, Bernie Harold, said she was “astounded” the issue of a contact veto was again being raised.

An advisory group on information and tracing in 2003 “included the representative organisations for adopted people and adoptive parents also, as well as many social workers and public servants. Our unanimous and heartfelt decision was that there should be no veto on information whatsoever, and that persons should only be able to register a ‘no contact at the moment’ preference, which we felt was more open and allowed for mediation and support,” said Ms Harold.

She added that the group rejected Mr Shannon’s opinion “on any form of veto”.


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