The vast majority of the almost 15,000 adopted people and natural parents on the national adoption tracing register will have to reapply to be added to the Government’s planned new register.
The National Adoption Contact Preference Register (NACPR), run by the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI), was introduced in 2005 on a non-statutory basis and is a voluntary register to enable contact between adopted people and their birth relatives.
At the end of 2018, there were around 14,130 entries on the register, made up of 9,700 adopted people and 4,300 birth relatives.
Under the Government’s much-criticised Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016, this register will be replaced with a statutory register operated by Tusla.
However, it has emerged that only the applications of natural parents requesting no contact from their adopted children will be automatically transferred from the NACPR to the new register.
This means that all of the almost 10,000 adopted people and a majority of natural parents on the NACPR will have to reapply to be placed on the planned new register.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) explained the decision by stating that, because the new register will hold a wider range of information than currently recorded on the NACPR, “the policy rationale was that a better outcome would be achieved by contacting all those on the NACPR to invite them to make an entry on the new register”.
It also pointed out that “all those currently on the NACPR will be notified of the establishment of the new register and invited to make an entry on it”.
“In addition, all of the NACPR will be considered a relevant record under the Bill which means that all of the information recorded therein would be available to Tusla for information and tracing purposes,” said a statement.
However, Claire McGettrick of the Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) has claimed that, in a meeting with Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone in February 2017, when ARA asked why most entries from the NACPR would not be transferred to the new register under the planned legislation, a DCYA official said that this was not happening because these applicants “would then be entitled to a service”.
Ms McGettrick said the fact that only applications from natural parents seeking no contact will automatically transfer to the register “once again singles adopted people out for discrimination, and is deeply offensive”.
“Since the launch of the NACPR in 2005, our organisation and its predecessor have called for the register to be placed on a statutory footing. We are deeply concerned that this Bill not only fails to do that but also appears to discontinue the register altogether.
“There are around 15,000 registrants currently on the register. These individuals registered in good faith, in the expectation that they would be informed if a match occurred.
“We are concerned that the DCYA may not have sufficiently consulted with the AAI in drafting this element of the legislation, as it is missing many of the elements which are necessary for the new register’s effective operation, and it seems to underestimate the importance of the existing data and the human beings who provided it.”