The audit was announced in June of last year following the Irish Examiner’s investigation into the case of Tressa Reeves, whose son was illegally adopted and falsely registered as the natural child of the adoptive parents without her consent. This was facilitated by St Patrick’s Guild adoption agency in Dublin.
Numerous cases of illegality have come to the attention of this newspaper in the interim and adoption groups believe the actual number could run into thousands.
It is understood to be the first such audit of any of the AAI’s records despite calls from adoption groups, for more than a decade, for an audit of all of its files as well as those of adoption agencies and those files now in the possession of the HSE.
However, more than a year after its commencement, the Adoption Authority confirmed that only a “preliminary examination” of its records had been undertaken. It further pointed out that as the cases involved illegal registration matters, no adoption order would have been made so it could only make an assessment as to the absence of records for people who believe they were illegally adopted.
It declined to offer any timescale as to when the audit would be completed or if its results would be made public.
Furthermore, the case of Tressa Reeves remains unresolved, despite the Authority being aware of the full facts and the involvement of St Patrick’s Guild in the illegal adoption of Ms Reeves’ son since 2001.
Commenting on the length of time the audit was taking, Susan Lohan of the Adoption Rights Alliance said it showed the Adoption Authority was “incapable or unwilling” to investigate potentially criminal issues arising from adoptions carried out here in the past.
“The Adoption Authority brings soft touch regulation to a new low. They are aware of thousands of files in religious adoption agencies for which there is no corresponding adoption order. Has it never occurred to them to inspect those files nor investigate where those children ended up and with whom,” she said.
Chairwoman of Adoption Loss — The Natural Parents Network of Ireland, Bernie Harold called on the AAI to inform the public of the results of the audit.
“We accept that the huge number of illegal adoptions in Ireland is not the complete responsibility of the AAI. Successive governments are at fault in continuing to allow adoption records to be ‘owned’ by the private adoption agencies throughout the State.”
“However, the Adoption Board, forerunner to the AAI, always had the legal right to search and copy all records held by such adoption agencies, but they never bothered to do so. We would like them to tell us why they neglected to do this in over fifty years,” she said.