'Enormous changes' to birth cert rights for adopted people being planned

'Enormous changes' to birth cert rights for adopted people being planned

Roderic O'Gorman is looking to drop a requirement that those looking for personal information must attend an information session conducted by a social worker in cases where their natural mother does not want contact.

The Children's Minister is to make significant concessions on a Bill to give adopted people access to birth certificates and other personal information after hearing from those impacted.

Roderic O'Gorman is looking to drop a requirement that those looking for personal information must attend an information session conducted by a social worker in cases where their natural mother does not want contact.

While an information session will still be a component of "breaking the link between the release of information and any subsequent contact as a result of that release", Mr O'Gorman has decided that this meeting can happen virtually and no longer will have to be conducted by a social worker.

"Even where a mother has registered an opposition to the release of her name; it will be released in all cases following an information session. That is the enormous change that this proposed Bill brings," he will tell committee members of the Oireachtas Children's Committee on Tuesday.

Deeply insulting

Adoption rights campaigners had strongly criticised the imposition of a mandatory information session with a social worker on adoptees whose parents have registered a "no contact" preference, describing it as "deeply insulting".

Clann Project co-director Claire McGettrick instead called for a mechanism where adopted people are informed of what the natural parents' contact preferences are "and we can take it from there ourselves".

Mr O'Gorman is also expected to tell TDs and senators that the term 'birth mother' is "reductive and hurtful" and needs to be amended in the legislation when he appears before the committee.

The Minister will say that some find the term natural mother more appropriate, while others prefer the term first mother, however, those who took part in an Adoptee Identity Rights survey indicated a preference amongst adoptees for the term ‘birth mother’.

"The differing viewpoints are indicative of the challenge to find a term that is acceptable and works legislatively, albeit that I want to emphasise that I am deeply committed to doing so and that I acknowledge that the term ‘birth mother’ needs to be amended," he will tell the Committee.

Medical information

The children's committee is currently scrutinising the Birth Information and Tracing Bill, 2021, which the Minister says will provide for the full and un-redacted release of birth certificates, as well as the full release of birth, early life, care and medical information to adoptees.

The Bill also provides a statutory tracing service and the new statutory register which will allow mothers to apply for a tracing service to actively trace their adopted adult child.

Separately, Tusla has received 253 Subject Access Requests (SARs) from people looking for birth information under Data Protection Legislation.

While Tusa could not say how long on average people are now waiting to receive information, they confirmed that 13 people who submitted requests in 2019 and 2020 have yet to receive their personal details.

"In order to manage the increased demand for Subject Access Requests, Tusla has increased its capacity to process applications by allocating additional resources to the service," a Tusla spokesperson said.

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