I have been involved in the http://www.yesforchildren.ie campaign for a little while now and I am strangely torn. I am one of Irelands 52000 legally Adopted Adults, there are also god knows how many illegally Adopted Adults. I have been concerned for a while that I mightn’t vote yes in the forthcoming referendum, that I couldn’t vote yes because it didn’t satisfy my personal need, it didn’t do what I wanted it to do, it didn’t contain the necessary inclusion of the right for me to have access to my files, my birth cert, my family of origin.
This, I felt, caused a further difficulty for the new legislation, the piece that allows young people to be adopted by their foster family. How could I reconcile the fact that by providing a family (legally and permanent) for a young person in care we were then making them unequal under the law with their peers. The reason being is, as foster children they were and are entitled to access to their family, they can see and know their files, history, lineage and birth cert, and once they are adopted if they are treated the same way as me they will be entitled to nothing.
Then I put my professional head back on and thought of the many young people who I have worked with, young people who by the time I met them had been in a myriad of care settings some of them between 15 and 50 different placements. Very few of the young people returned to their family, very few had any meaningful contact at all, and any time there was contact there was chaos. I wonder if early in their lives the opportunity for them to be adopted would have made a difference. Now, I understand the argument that a child is always better off with their family and I fully subscribe to this 100%. But none of the young people I’m talking about could live with their family or indeed should have to live with them.
So on November the 10th I will be voting yes, I will continue to fight for changes in the adoption legislation, I will continue to seek a one tier system so that all people, adopted, fostered, de-facto adopted and illegally adopted are all entitled to their files and birth certs, and I will continue to advocate for the young people that I work with above and beyond my own personal needs and desires. So don’t forget on November the 10th get out and vote YES to give children an independent voice in their own lives.
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. He is a Member of The Irish Association of Social Care Workers, Social Justice Ireland and the YES Campaign for Children.
All views expressed are entirely my own unless otherwise stated and are not representative of any organisation or employer past , present or future.