Thursday, 16 September 2021
Adoption (Information) Bill 2021: Second Stage [Private Members]
I commend an Teachta Connolly and an Teachta Pringle for introducing the Adoption (Information) Bill 2021. This is a very powerful piece of legislation and I thank them for their work on it. This Bill has a short Title but it would be a gigantic sea change for adoptees.
The main aim of this Bill is to provide unconditional and improved access for adopted persons to their birth information. It also allows for an adopted person to trace connections between information retained on the index administered by the Adopted Children Register and any corresponding information in the register of births. Full access to personal records for adopted people is something we in Sinn Féin are very committed to and are working hard on, so I am delighted to be able to support this important Bill today. The Adoption (Information) Bill will give adoptees life-changing information and give back a part of them they thought was lost and gone forever. What is our job in this House, if not to help people and give them a true sense of belonging?
I have talked to many adopted people and watched harrowing documentaries on the mistreatment of adopted people in Ireland. What stands out so clearly above all else is a sense of the soul-destroying nature of this and the deep loss a person experiences when he or she is denied access to his or her own records. This is a shameful wrong and it must be put right. In a similar vein, I have been absolutely struck by the sense of belonging and empowerment a person gets when he or she is handed his or her own records. The right to identity is a fundamental human right around the world and all one needs to do is talk to adopted people to understand how deeply they feel this. The continuing refusal to tell adopted people their name at birth and provide them with their publicly registered birth certificate is unconstitutional and contrary to the EU general data protection regulation, GDPR.
Adoptees have already waited far too long to access their records. We cannot in good conscience allow more delays and out-of-kilter laws to stand in their path. Surely this House has a collective responsibility to look after our citizens and to ensure basic human rights are upheld. What more noble cause is there than the right to have access to one's own birth certificate? We now have the opportunity to give adoptees what is rightfully theirs. We now have the opportunity to right the wrong.
We now have the opportunity to return all of those stolen years. I ask all Deputies to fully support this life-changing Bill and remove these hideous burdens once and for all.