Thank you, Sir, for letting me raise the need for an adoption contact register. It is unacceptable that an adoption society such as St. Patrick's Guild has deliberately misled people by giving grossly inaccurate information, both to adopted persons and to birth mothers, with regard to the background to their adoption. It is almost beyond belief that an adoption society deliberately set out to tell adopted persons the wrong names, wrong dates of birth and the wrong ages of the birth mothers. That behaviour must be totally condemned by Members of this House.
It is an extraordinary indictment of the lack of humanity shown to persons with a genuine need for information about their background that they were subjected to such conduct. I say that as someone who is well aware of the good work our adoption agencies have done over the years and the great deal of care many agencies, including this agency, have shown over the years with regard to adoption placements and ensuring families with whom children were placed were suitable.
It is simply unacceptable that the events which have now come into the public arena occurred. I ask the Minister to ensure that the behaviour of this adoption society is rectified and to seek assurances from that society that it maintains accurate records that can be utilised in circumstances where both adopted persons and birth mothers are trying to establish contact with each other.
The events that have been reported in our newspapers have yet again highlighted the need for a national contact register to be provided for by way of legislation. For some 20 years I have been talking about the need for such a register. That need was highlighted in 1984 when the adoption review group reported and set out clearly in a definitive report on the adoption process. I find it difficult to understand why it is taking so long to produce necessary legislation. There seems to be a bureaucratic logjam in addressing this issue. I am not saying that in criticism of the present Minister. It is a logjam that appears to have been within the relevant Government Departments, certainly since the review group reported.
I want to nail the suggestion that this is a hugely complex issue. It is an issue that has been properly and adequately addressed in a variety of other countries with the degree of insight and sensitivity necessary to ensure that birth mothers can make contact with adopted children where adopted children wish for such contact and to ensure that adopted children can trace their birth mothers and, indeed, their natural fathers where the information is available and where the natural parents wish for such contact. I urge the Minister to proceed hastily with bringing the necessary legislation before the House.
I listened with a great deal of unease and unhappiness to a broadcast on RTE today with the former registrar of the Adoption Board. He seemed to regard it as an acceptable practice that in years gone by mothers gave the Adoption Board false names in signing agreements to place children for adoption. I am well aware of the pressures mothers were under in the 1950s and 1960s to give up children for adoption. It seems this former registrar suggested that the board had no duty to ensure that the names they were being given were accurate and had no duty to maintain proper records. The 1952 Adoption Act required the maintenance of proper records. Will the Minister of State at the Department of Health correspond with or make contact with the Adoption Board to ascertain whether, in the view of the current board, full and accurate records are maintained on adoption procedures implemented in the years from 1979 back to 1952.