Dáil debates

Friday, 9 May 2014

Open Adoption Bill 2014: Second Stage [Private Members]


12:05 pm

Photo of Anne FerrisAnne Ferris (Wicklow, Labour) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Minister for his support. It is uncannily coincidental that his maiden speech was on this issue. It is a happy coincidence. I thank all the Members who were here today to support me and supported the Bill. Many good points were made. The issue Deputy Seán Crowe raised about the family he spoke to needs to be addressed.

Deputy Clare Daly mentioned the Magdalen laundries and mother and baby homes. We have all heard stories that would make one’s hair stand on end. I thank the former Minister, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, and wish her well in the future in her new role. She had a great commitment to this area and did a lot of work on it. I also thank the Adoption Rights Alliance, which has been advocating for change in the legislation for a long time.

I am delighted to hear that the adoption (information and tracing) Bill will come forward. While there are constitutional problems with regard to people’s right to privacy, I say let someone challenge it. I know the Minister cannot agree with that. It is very important to have a right to information about one’s identity, to know who one is.

I was adopted into a very loving family; I did not go down the mother and baby route. I have discovered that I have half-sisters and brothers. Only last month I received an e-mail from someone living in London who appears to be a half-sister. She hopes to come over in July and I will meet her then. My journey as an adopted person continues.

That same loving family that adopted me took the decision, when I was a foolish teenager and became pregnant, that I would not be able and mature enough to raise a child on my own, rightly or wrongly, and for 23 years I lived with the pain in my heart that I had lost my own baby. Many say and I know all too well that one loses a baby to adoption even if one is lucky enough to be reunited, as I was with my daughter. I came face to face with an adult woman whereas for years I had hankered for the baby I had lost. There is still a sense of loss. It is a great privilege to find the person one lost so many years ago, but the dynamic is different.

As Deputy Frank Feighan said, all those years ago it was church, State and neighbours. We worried about what the neighbours would think and had to hide these things, as we could not have the neighbours talking about us.

Again, I am delighted. I suggest that before the Bill is taken on Committee Stage, the committee consider holding hearings on the issue. I am not a member of the committee and do not know if it has held hearings to date, but it would be no harm to have public hearings with interested bodies. The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality holds many hearings, on the various pieces of legislation we are hoping to draw up and those which are before the Houses.

I again thank the Minister and I am delighted that my Bill, Open Adoption Bill 2014, is before the House on his first day. There are many thousands like me. Had there been open adoption legislation in place when we lost our babies, we would not have endured that grief for many years because we would have been part of our children's lives when they were growing up. I thank every Deputy for his or her contribution and the cross-party support for the Bill.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.