‘Deeply flawed’ adoption bill criticised

THE proposed Adoption Bill has been criticised for failing to provide the legal right to enable adopted people to trace their birth parents or obtain a range of post-adoption services.

At a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children yesterday, a number of groups took issue with some aspects of the proposed legislation.

Susan Lohan of the Adoption Rights Alliance voiced concern at what she termed “a deeply flawed” bill.

“There is not a single new provision for information and tracing in the bill. The phrase ‘children’s rights’ does not even appear anywhere in the bill.

“It also allows for bilateral agreements with any and every country to continue. The bill promotes intercountry adoption as a first means of resort rather than the last,” she said.

In Britain, adopted children have had the legal right to trace their natural parents since 1973. However, in Ireland, many adopted children and birth parents face legal problems in tracing their relatives.

Chief executive of the Children’s Alliance, Jillian van Turnhout, welcomed the bill but was “utterly frustrated” that it failed to make provision for pre- or post-adoption services to support the adopted child.

The bill failed to address some 2,000 children who have been in foster care for a significant number of years and are not eligible for adoption, she said.

Chairwoman of the Council of Irish Adoption Agencies, Sheila Gallagher, was also concerned that the bill failed to provide the legal right to enable adopted people to trace their birth parents or obtain post-adoption services such as counselling.

Chairperson of the Adoption Loss/Natural Parents Network of Ireland, Bernie Harold, hit out at the proposed legislation, saying it “continues to deny adopted people the right to know that they are adopted”.

Norah Gibbons, from Barnardos, said the growing number of open adoptions (where the natural mother and the adoptive parents know each other) were also not recognised in the bill.

The Adoption Bill will see Ireland finally ratify the Hague Convention. To date, of the 55 countries who have signed up to the convention, only Ireland and Russia have failed to ratify it. Ireland signed the convention in 1993.


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