ARA Press Release 27th July 2015

Adoption Rights Alliance says legislative proposals impose statutory discrimination

Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA), a group advocating for equal and civil rights for adopted people says that the adoption legislation announced today by Minister for Children, James Reilly would introduce statutory-based discrimination against adopted people.

Speaking after today’s briefing on the legislation, ARA’s co-founder Susan Lohan said, ‘we would very much like to be in a position to welcome the heads of bill, which Minister Reilly assured us would give the vast majority of adopted people access to their birth certificates. However we cannot possibly endorse what we have seen of the proposals as outlined by the Minister and his officials, as in some circumstances adopted people will be forced to sign away their rights in a way that further marginalises them on a statutory basis.’

ARA co-founder Claire McGettrick said, ‘it is important to separate the issues of information and tracing; adopted people are seeking a statutory right to information as opposed to a statutory right to a relationship with their natural mothers. Adopted people can already navigate the civil records in the General Registrar’s Office to obtain their birth certificates, and additional barriers such as an information veto and a statutory declaration that one will respect one’s natural mother’s privacy are wholly unnecessary and offensive to adopted people.’

ARA’s US coordinator Mari Steed said, ‘it is deeply disappointing to note that no provisions appear to have been made in this legislation for the 2,000+ people who were trafficked to the US for adoption. Eighteen years after the publication of Mike Milotte’s Banished Babies, US adopted people remain Ireland’s forgotten diaspora’.

ARA was delighted to hear representatives of three separate natural mothers’ groups at today’s briefing, all underscore their desire for adopted people to have unconditional access to their birth certificates and files as a basic right.

While ARA intends to fully engage with the upcoming committee hearings on the legislation, and we are happy to work with Minister Reilly, we wish to stress that the only statutory provisions we are in a position to endorse is where adopted people are given unconditional access to their birth certificates and files.