“The Government must act now to give all adoptees a right to their birth certs”, Fianna Fáil Senator Averil Power said today. The Dublin Senator, who was adopted from the Temple Hill Mother and Baby Home in Dublin, says the conditions in the Mother and Baby Homes were just half the story.
“The forced separation of thousands of mothers and babies was just as shameful and continues to cause immense pain to many people to this day. By denying adoptees access to their birth certs, the Irish State has robbed them of their identities. If the Government is really serious about doing the right thing in aftermath of the outcry about the Tuam babies, it will put an end to this cruelty”, commented Senator Power.
“Adopted people in England have had a right to their birth cert, listing their original name and their mother’s details, since 1975. Forty years later, Irish adoptees still don’t have that right.
“The Taoiseach said this week that introducing such a right in Ireland might require a referendum. Many constitutional lawyers disagree. In fact, as Conor O’Mahony from UCC has pointed out, the Supreme Court said in the I O’T v B case that balancing the adopted person’s right to their identity and their mother’s right to privacy is a job for the Oireachtas.
“We can and should put in place a system that balances these two rights in a way that is sensitive to everyone’s needs.
“A proper State-funded information, counselling and tracing service should be established and all adopted people should have a right to get their birth cert through this service. Counselling should be provided to help them deal with the emotions involved. If they wish to trace their mother, the counsellor can talk them through the process and help them to prepare for both the best and the worst outcomes. A counsellor can also help the adoptee to understand their birth parent’s perspective and wishes, including where the parent preferred not to meet them. In this way, their mother’s right to privacy and her needs can be considered and respected.
“Access to adoption information is a sensitive issue but that hasn’t stopped most European countries from dealing with it. Instead of kicking to touch by talking about an unnecessary referendum, the Government should legislate now and help all adopted people re-establish their identities.”