The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill provides a statutory basis for the provision of information related to both past and future adoptions. One of the key provisions in this Bill is to give an adopted person, aged 18 years or over who was adopted prior to its commencement, a statutory entitlement to the information required to apply for their birth certificate or a copy of his/her adoption order. In order to legislate for the right to identity for adopted persons and for the Bill to be legally sound, it must balance this right with the birth parents’ right to privacy. The following suite of measures are provided for in the Bill to ensure that the birth parents’ right to privacy is protected:
- enabling a birth parent to register his or her name on the Register of Adoption Contact Enquiries and to express his or her contact preferences;
- notifying a birth parent (whose name is entered on Register) in advance of the proposed release of birth certificate information and providing that parent with an opportunity to provide the Agency with a statement setting out his or her view that there are 'compelling reasons' as to why the information should not be released;
- providing that where Tusla considers that there are compelling reasons, it will refer the matter to the Circuit Court for determination;
- providing that, where a birth parent has not registered his or her name on the Register or has registered a 'no contact' preference on the Register, an adopted person will be required to give an undertaking that he or she will not contact his or her birth parent;
- offering support and guidance to both parties.
Additionally, an awareness campaign will be undertaken during the first six months after commencement, to alert the relevant persons to the provisions of the legislation and to the intention to release information to enable an adopted person to obtain his or her birth certificate or a copy of his or her adoption order.