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Adoptions and the right to an original birth cert

  • 28-07-2021 6:47pm
    Registered Users Posts: 6,538 ✭✭✭MrMusician18

    As you may or may not know, there is some landmark legislation due next year that will give adoptees the right to a copy of their original birth cert. At the moment, this can only be given out with the consent of the birth mother, of which four objected to last year. The new system will allow access to the cert even when the mother objects and where the mother objects they will be just essentially be asked nicely to not make contact. The media and public discourse generally seems to be lauding this proposal, but I have to admit I have some concerns about the precedent this sets and how we can expect the State to hold private information.

    When these adoptions occured, rightly or wrongly, the State promised these women to keep the birth cert confidential. This promise, old as it is, appears to count for nothing and the State is planning to give adoptees rights over the privacy of others. Little meaningful effort is going into balancing the mother's right to privacy with the adoptees right to know. With this precedent set, it appears that the State could choose to make any confidential information available even where it has said in the past that it wouldn't.

    This is obviously a controversial and sensitive topic (some posters I'm sure will be affected), but I would be interested in what others think of this. Media debate has been very one sided (the birth mother's obviously don't have the NGO's advocating for then) but there is another legitimate point of view.



  • Registered Users Posts: 31,192 ✭✭✭✭Hotblack Desiato
    Golgafrinchan 'B' Ark

    There can only be one winner here in this conflict of rights and that is to allow full access for adopted adults to their original birth records.

    Assuming the nuns didn't falsify them for "a few dollars more" of course... 😠

    Abolish the farcical Official Languages Act.

  • Posts: 0 Davion Flat Muck

    It’s a question of whose rights are the greatest. The mothers who gave their babies up on the understanding that there would never be any contact, or the now adult babies?

  • Posts: 0 Davion Flat Muck

    I agree with you. A mother who conceived as the result of ignorance, innocence, rape, incest etc and gave up the resulting baby in the belief that she would never be identified, will have no say.

    I can understand an adopted child wanting to know it’s history and any information of possible hereditary illnesses, too.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 31,192 ✭✭✭✭Hotblack Desiato
    Golgafrinchan 'B' Ark

    Jeez you'd think birth certs had the mother's current address, Eircode, PPSN and bank account number the way some are going on. Most will have since married and taken another surname. Many emigrated. Many have since died.

    We are so frequently told that baptism registers are a record of a historical event and cannot be changed... yet a record of a historical real, not supernatural, event - a birth - can be suppressed forever as the law currently stands, to the great detriment of the child involved who had no say in being adopted.

    Also what about the half-siblings and other relatives of the adopted person? Don't their rights to know and possibly meet their family member not enter into it also?

    Abolish the farcical Official Languages Act.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,435 ✭✭✭Topgear on Dave

    OP you say 4 birth mothers objected last year. What proportion of the total birth certs is that?

    Is it all or only a small proportion?

    I'd be fairly wary of overriding the wishes of these women.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 11,131 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hermy

    The State made no such promise.

    The civil records of all births registered in Ireland are open to public scrutiny.

    Admittedly, not every adoptee will have sufficient information to locate the civil record of their birth, but where sufficient information is available an individual can access the record of their birth or anyone else's whose birth was officially recorded.

    Genealogy Forum Mod

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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,538 ✭✭✭MrMusician18

    The State did. If no such promise existed, this legislation obviously wouldn't be needed.

    While birth records are available, it's the link to the adoption record that is key. Without that link (which is what we are talking about here, if you want to be pedantic), looking for your record in the public register is like trying to find a specific unremarkable needle in a haystack of unremarkable needles.

  • Op, this is worth a read. And from a quick search, it appears there were approx 45k adoptions in Ireland since 1952. I must admit, I thought the number would be higher.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,688 ✭✭✭kerash

    Why don’t you ask an adoptee? Because you sound quite ignorant at the moment. I’d go as far as to wonder if you are flaming here?

    Every person in Ireland is legally entitled to privacy i.e not being harassed by unwanted contact. Getting a birth cert does not remove that right.

    You are either ignorantly or deliberately confused that legal issue with allowing ease of access to an adopted persons original birth certificate.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,042 ✭✭✭✭B.A._Baracus

    Never knew about this. Interesting to read but bit of a slippery topic isn't it?

    On one hand if someone who was adopted wanted to know where they were born, to whom etc you would think they would have that right. Sure it's about themselves. But on the other hand if someone put a child up for adoption I guess they have a right to remain nameless. We sadly do not live in a world where everyone is level-headed. A person could gain that information and harass their biological mother or something.

    You could also throw in a right to know if someone's family tree is susceptible to certain illnesses or something like legal right? Ahh, I dunno, it all seems a slippy mess.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,750 ✭✭✭✭BattleCorp

    It is higher. I personally know of some illegal adoptions that won't show up on any register.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,750 ✭✭✭✭BattleCorp

  • I'm adopted. If I sling you my details can you tell me if I was illegal or not:-)

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,192 ✭✭✭MojoMaker

    If an adopted person would like to access their original birth record (note: not the cert, but the actual ledger entry) drop into the church that holds your baptism and in the relevant year's dusty old ledger you'll find a complete record of the event, often with both parents names.

    Pretty scary.

    You have to jump through serious hoops in the civilian world to get the same information, if you can at all (prior to this pending legislation), but maddeningly it's sitting there, hidden in plain sight.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,538 ✭✭✭MrMusician18

    To claim this just whinging is just your way of dismissing the argument without engaging with it.

    While the previous adoption system was wrong, it was the system that was in place and those that were in it knew the rules. And the rule was that mother's identities would remain confidential in all circumstances.

    Why exactly should I be ashamed of myself for having an opinion that the wishes of these women to have their identities protected, as they were promised, kept? If there's anything disgusting here, is your opinion that these women should be outed against their will.

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  • Well, like I mentioned earlier, I'm one of those few adopted Irish people, so if anyone wants to ask any questions - fire away. Tell me why I shouldn't be allowed to find out where I'm from.

    (I'm hoping it's not Longford.)

    The ball is in your court, Op.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,538 ✭✭✭MrMusician18

    Well what other word would you use to describe the release of personal information about you that you did not want released? 4 women last year didn't want it, why should their rights be steamrolled?

    And this isn't about adopted people invading the lives of birth parents. It's about respecting the rights of the small number of women that want the their privacy respected, as they were promised. Where two parties have a stake in a situation do you think only one side can give consent? Even when one side expressly states that they don't?

    And how can you know how much empathy I have for the adoptees? I have acknowledged that this is difficult stuff and as one poster above correctly states this is one that doesn't naturally have a compromise position - you either share the document or you don't. What I argue is that there was absolutely no nuance in the proposed legislation and that it is completely one sided, no common consent required.

  • Dude, write what you know is the thing I live by. Did you read the article I posted? Most women in Ireland were "steamrolled" into giving up their outside of marriage children since 1952. Get back to me when you've talked to one adopted person:-)

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,632 ✭✭✭✭nullzero

    The legislation isn't perfect, but a reasonable system has never been in place and the time it would take to establish one now and it's lack of an ongoing use beyond, say the middle of this century means it will never be established.

    You are assuming there are only the birth parents and the adoptees involved. In the case of getting an understanding of medical histories for example, some hereditary diseases can skip a generation and can have serious impacts on the lives of the grandchildren of the people whose right to privacy you value above everything else in this situation.

    It's not an ideal situation but there are greater things at stake here than the privacy of birth parents and if making birth certificates available to adopted people is the only solution it's how it has to be. Four women last year didn't want to have their adopted children's birth certificates handed over, not four hundred or four thousand. The numbers involved are extremely low, and while it's sad these people's privacy isn't being respected it isn't the most important issue in this situation.

    You are talking about this as if adopted people shouldn't have the right to demand to know where they came from, as if they are some sort of illegitimate group who have some unfair advantage in this situation when in reality they are a small group of people who have been treated terribly. If we look at the rights of adoptees versus the rights of birth parents, over the years the number of birth parents whose rights have been respected versus the small number of remaining adopted persons who will benefit from this change (many won't even care about it) the advantage is stacked vastly in the favor of the former.

    This legislation is in effect too little too late and you choose to appropriate it as some sort of scandalous slap in the face to the rights of birth parents, that's why your opinion is invalid.

    Glazers Out!

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,538 ✭✭✭MrMusician18

    I'm well aware they were steamrolled in most cases into giving their children up.

    That doesn't change the fact that in 2022, regardless if birth mothers consent or not that their information will be shared.

    I'd argue that common consent should be a necessity, not an irrelevance. And that works both ways.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,632 ✭✭✭✭nullzero

    The adopted children don't even enter that equation. A large number of whom are women also.

    Glazers Out!

  • Yeah, you're arguing from a point of no experience though. That's the annoying thing. You've just latched onto something you've read and belched it out there on a thread without thinking too much about anyone that might actually have something to do with it.

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