Adoptees will be able to access records about their parents if their birth mothers have died or cannot be traced, under legislation proposed by Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
According to the Sunday Times, Minister Fitzgerald said that “at the moment we have a passive system, and I want to move to an active system. Historically, it's been far too passive for people. This had led to situations where there may be no objection to information being given, but people just haven't been asked.” Current legislation gives adoptees no automatic rights to their records if their birth mother is dead or cannot be found.
Minister Fitzgerald also told the Sunday Times that she wanted to go “as far as possible” in giving adoptees access to information about their origins, while respecting their mother's constitutional right to privacy. The legislation would oblige all bodies holding adoption records to make them available to adoptees, “in certain cases”.
Speaking in the Dail last week, she said she will also look into giving adoptees greater access to “non-identifying information that would not infringe on the privacy” of the mother. In cases where the mother objects to information being released, adoptees may be able to take their case to the High Court.
Susan Lohan, co-founder of the Adoption Rights Alliance, said the proposed changes were welcome, but that “we have made it quite clear to the minister that this legislation will only be acceptable if it gives full access rights to information for adopted people.”