Tuesday, 1 July 2014
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
Adoption Services Provision
87. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the measures he will be putting in place relating to information and tracing in adoption; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28015/14]
My Department is continuing work on the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill and I hope to be in a position to seek Government approval to publish the Heads of the Bill as soon as possible. While I am anxious to improve the legal basis for access to adoption records, proposals to Government have to reflect the constraints on the Legislature in providing such access if they are not to fall foul of Constitutional challenge. The Office of the Attorney General has provided comprehensive legal advice to the Department that has assisted in identifying the Constitutional parameters within which the Heads of the Bill have to be drafted. The most difficult situations to address within the proposed legislation are those where the consent of other parties, such as natural mothers, does not exist for the release of information.
It is intended to proceed to finalise legislative proposals so that I may bring proposals to the Government as soon as possible. Subsequent consideration by the Oireachtas Health and Children Committee will allow the issues to be carefully teased out and the views of different interested parties on these important and sensitive matters to be fully considered.
In addition, improvements to existing procedures for the provision of adoption information and tracing services, which are provided nationally by the Child and Family Agency, are ongoing. A number of religious orders have transferred records from their Mother and Baby Homes and adoption societies to the Child and Family Agency. Work by the Agency on the organising and storage of these records is underway.
The importance of arrangements for the management of these records has been raised directly with the Child and Family Agency and I have also asked my officials to examine the work that could be undertaken with the Child and Family Agency, the Adoption Authority and other stakeholders to improve arrangements for managing and accessing the records that are available.
I would urge birth mothers and those affected by adoption to enrol on the National Adoption Contact Preference Register which 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. Applicants decide, through a range of information and contact options, how they wish to proceed. The Adoption Authority of Ireland has responsibility for the operation of the Contact Preference Register. The public attention this area is currently receiving provides the opportunity to promote awareness amongst women whose children were adopted of the importance of registering their consent for contact to be re-established.