The forthcoming Children’s referendum will hopefully be truly Child centred. It will hopefully give Children a greater voice in decisions made for and about them, one area that I am particularly interested in is whether they will look at post adoption tracing and support legislation. This is one area that affects us as Children and Adults.
In Ireland now in 2012 adopted Adults require permission from their natural Mothers whom they have probably never met to get a copy of their original birth-cert. Permission for a document that is a matter of public record, permission to get a document that all of you, those not adopted have as a matter of course. As a 47 year old man I’m a bit pissed off that I need permission to have the legal record of my own birth.
In Ireland there is no formal mechanism for tracing and reunification services, these are either left up to the HSE or the original agency, this can be very problematic for adopted people and natural Mothers as you are asking them to re-engage with the agency that initially facilitated the adoption and therefore were intrinsically involved in the process.
Adopted people are precluded from requesting information on their adopted selves under the freedom of information act, if you were precluded based on gender, colour or nationality there would be wigs on the green. We need to have a much more positive system whereby birth-certs are available without having to jump through hoops, natural Mothers and adopted Adults should be encouraged and supported to meet if that is what they want, but as a minimum your lineage should be available as a matter of course, it should be enshrined in the forthcoming Children’s legislation and should be retrospective so it is available to the 50,000 legal adoptions and the god only knows how many illegal and de-facto adoptions since the inception of the adoption act in 1952.
There is no good reason to prevent people from accessing their past and having some sort of a relationship with blood relatives if that is what they want.
Adrian McKenna is a frontline child care professional; he has worked for many years with young people and adults in residential care, detention services, mental health services and post-adoption services. He currently works with a large Dublin-based charity. All views expressed are entirely my own unless otherwise stated and are not representative of any organisation or employer past , present or future.