It was clear from the findings of the report that the preferred term was "birth parent", "birth mother" or "birth father". I suppose, for the sake of brevity, it makes sense that "birth parent" was used. Personally, I use "birth mother" and "biological father". I know the third preference in our survey was for an amalgam of both,"birth mother and biological father". The second preference was "biological mother and biological father". As a general term, "birth parent" would probably sit easily.
On the far more complex issue of trust, it is quite difficult to restore trust in a system that is inherently flawed and has continually denied access to information. I know we have spoken about this issue over recent years when the Deputy was a Member of the Seanad, debating previous Bills and so on. It is the case there is no trust with regard to Tusla and there is no trust with regard to the Adoption Authority of Ireland, and that is very clear. There were 468 respondents to the main survey, the identity rights for adoptees survey. Two of those could have been positive where there were different circumstances, but the vast majority were negative. Again, there is the issue of adoptees being spoken to over files, or having files on the table in front of them while they were spoken over. It is much more like an interrogation technique than a supportive technique.
If we are talking about restoring trust, that would be a very difficult ask because it is clear it is gone. I really do not know how we would restore trust in it except by being open and accepting the difficulties it has caused, the pain and upset it has caused the people who have been on the receiving end of this, the stigmatisation it has caused, the marginalisation they have felt as a result of it and the strain it has put on people's mental health. That should be very clear. When people are telling us in the report they felt criminalised having an interaction with the agencies they are meant to be supported by, I really do not see how there is a comeback from that.
If we are to frame what I believe the Minister hopes is transformative legislation, the only way we can do this successfully is in a new agency with a clean start, a tabula rasa, which we were given when we were adopted in that we were wiped clean, we had no past. The same approach needs to be taken with regard to an agency. We need a fresh start. We need a clean break from the past. We cannot keep repeating the same issues because we see now how this impacts, how this hurts, how this goes through generations, and we need at some stage for this to stop. It needs to stop. To do that, we need to move away from agencies with which there are massive issues, such as legal issues and issues in regard to the end users, who at this stage do not trust them.