Proposed adoption legislation under fire

A register established by the government in 2005 seeking to reunite adoptees and their natural parents would be discontinued under proposed new adoption legislation, and the information would not be transferred to a new service.

Adoption reform legislation, the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2015, proposes that Tusla would operate a new register, meaning that people on the old register would have to reapply for inclusion.

The original register — the National Adoption Contact Preference Register (NACPR) — was set up in 2005 and is maintained by the Adoption Authority of Ireland. It allows birth relatives and people who were adopted to express a choice for contact or a veto on contact.

There are currently 11,500 names on the existing register.

In excess of 1,000 adopted people and their birth relatives have been reunited through the register.

Although the bill states that “all will be invited to apply to have their details entered on the new register,” campaigners have raised concerns that people will fall through the cracks, not realising they have to register again with a new service if they wish to be traced.

Helen Gilmartin, of the Adoptive Parents Association of Ireland, questioned why the information cannot simply be transferred to the new register. “The NACPR was set up at a considerable financial cost to the State and great personal investment by the people who registered on it,” she said.

“Most of those who registered did so with the expectation of successful reunions or to exchange personal or medical information. It seems wasteful and dismissive of people’s hopes when they responded to the publicity for the contact register and the leaflet drop to virtually every home in the country. The new register should encourage those already on it to reapply, particularly to update their original information. However, they should not have to reapply for inclusion on the new register when they have already applied to the old one,” she said.

The Joint Committee on Health and Children late last year examined the proposed legislation and issued a report to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs James Reilly, based on a series of hearings with experts and stakeholders in the adoption field.

The committee agreed that consideration should be given to transferring the data from the old register to the new one.

It also expressed concern about a statutory declaration that adopted people would have to sign in order to obtain information necessary to apply for their birth certificates.

Signing the declaration would be a requirement only for people adopted prior to the commencement of the legislation, and where their birth parent has registered a preference of “no contact at present” — or has not registered any preference on the proposed new register.

The committee recommended that consideration should be given to excluding the statutory declaration provision from the bill.


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