What’s wrong with the Adoption Information & Tracing Bill 2016

Imagine being told you may not have basic information about your birth and where you are from. That the person holding this information can deny you your right to your identity.

This is the unbelievably frustrating situation facing adopted people in Ireland. It’s as though we never grew up, and allowed basic rights enjoyed by all other Irish citizens.

The Adoption Information & Tracing Bill 2016 was meant to bring an end to this attitude, and improve our laws and rules around access to basic birth information.

But instead of improving things, the Bill actually makes it worse.

I was adopted from Temple Hill in 1957. I was then lucky enough to be able to trace my birth mother Mary in 1986 with the help of St. Patrick’s Guild, who had arranged my adoption.

The situation back then regarding searching was far from ideal, we were completely dependent on the good will of the sisters in St. Patrick’s Guild, and their willingness to share the information.

But if this Bill is passed in its current form my ability to seek information about my birth could be even more difficult than it was in 1986!

Many TDs and Senators supporting the Bill believe in good faith that they will improve the situation for adopted people.  But it will not.

The Bill needs to be stopped or substantially amended.

My thanks to the Adoption Rights Alliance for the following analysis of the Adoption Information & Tracing Bill 2016:

If this bill is enacted in its current format, it will mean that adopted people are deemed deserving of less rights and status than other citizens under Irish law.

It will mean that adopted people are deemed incapable of obeying the law, and respecting their natural mothers’ privacy.

In brief, this legislation would not only copper fasten the unacceptable status quo, where we are denied our identities, our histories, our early care records, our own files but in addition, this bill would also effectively:

  1. Coerce us into signing “an undertaking” promising not to contact our natural parents in exchange for “birth Cert information”, despite existing harassment laws being sufficient to deal with minority of cases where this would be necessary.
  2. Allow social workers to register “compelling reasons” including “danger of death” (to our natural parents) to deny us basic “birth cert information”
  3. Allow natural parents to register “compelling reasons” to deny us basic “birth cert information”. Anyone wishing to challenge such vetoes would have to suffer the very considerable financial expense and stress of going to court.
  4. Allow social workers with a vested interest in protecting their organisation’s and/or colleague’s reputations to construct a summary of our personal histories, care histories & critically our adoptions.
  5. Scrap the 13,000 registrations on the existing National Adoption Contact Preference Register (NACPR).

St. Patrick’s Infant Hospital, Temple Hill, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.


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