Thursday, 21 October 2010
Department of Health and Children
Civil Registration Service
Question 90: To ask the Minister for Health and Children the arrangements in place for access to birth records by persons who have been adopted; his plans to change the laws in order to facilitate greater access; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38315/10]
Barry Andrews (Minister of State with special responsibility for Children and Young People, Department of Health and Children; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Dún Laoghaire, Fianna Fail)
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Under Section 22 of the Adoption Act 1952, an tArd Chlaraitheoir (Registrar General) is required to maintain a register of domestic adoptions (i.e. adoptions effected in Ireland, regardless of where the adopted person was born). The register is called the Adopted Children Register. An index to the register is maintained and can be searched by any person. Any person may obtain a copy of any entry in the register. The legislation also provides for an index linking the birth entry in the register of births (in the case of an Irish-born adopted person) with the entry in the Adopted Children Register. Information from this index may not be given to any person except by order of a court or the Adoption Board. It is a matter for the Adoption Board, which is an independent quasi judicial body, to treat each application it receives in this regard on its individual merits. I understand that the Adoption Board does release original birth certificates to adopted people and that while in certain cases, an application may be refused by the Board due to the specific circumstances of the case, in the majority of cases the application for the release of the birth certificate is successful.
The National Adoption Contact Register was established in 2005 to assist adopted people and their natural families to make contact with each other, exchange information or state their contact preferences. They decide, through a range of information and contact options, how they wish to proceed.
The Adoption Board, together with the adoption societies, the HSE and the support groups, developed the "Standardised Framework for the Provision of a National Information and Tracing Service". This framework was published in November 2007. It sets standards and provides guidance and advice for information and tracing services providers nationally. The standardised Framework is currently being piloted nationally. In relation to Information and Tracing for persons adopted from abroad, the Adoption Board is undertaking a process, with Romanian authorities initially, to determine how best to address the needs of those adopted from abroad.
The Information and Tracing Unit in the Adoption Board also provides an advice and referral service for those seeking to trace or to obtain medical or personal information. This unit provides services directly to adopted people, natural mothers and birth families. It works closely with the registered adoption societies and the HSE nationwide information and tracing services.
The drafting of legislation with regard to Information and Tracing is a priority of mine and work has commenced in relation to the preparation of the Bill, in consultation with the Adoption Board.