Deputy Wallace has raised the question of whether our further analysis of illegal registrations will also cover illegal adoptions.
I have checked the UN definition of illegal adoptions.
It is: “Adoptions resulting from crimes such as abduction and sale of and trafficking in children, fraud in the declaration of adoptability, falsification of official documents or coercion, and any illicit activity or practice such as lack of proper consent by biological parents, improper financial gain by intermediaries and related corruption”.
The analysis that I have now commenced is looking at the falsification of official documents, as well as illicit activity and practice such as lack of proper consent by biological parents in the cases where their children were illegally registered.
I accept that “proper consent” could also cover forced consent and consent from young women and girls who were underage.
The Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation is examining practices in the cases of mothers and children who were resident in specified institutions within its terms of reference. It is also examining the interaction of Mother and Baby Homes with other institutions, organisations and individuals involved with children from these institutions.
Some of the mothers were children themselves. This may uncover practices such as the lack of proper consent and also consent given by girls who were underage. The Commission can also examine whether there was improper financial gain by intermediaries or evidence of related corruption.
I think it would be helpful to see what the findings of the Commission are in respect of illegal adoptions, as defined by the United Nations. It may help us to understand what specific evidence exists and what we would need to look for should we embark on a more expansive analysis of forced and underage consent of adoptions.
At this point in time, I think it would be very difficult to broaden the analysis of illegal registrations to cover these children. The children we are focussed on, in terms of the further analysis we are doing, are now adults. They do not know that the people they considered to be their parents are not their parents. They have had their identity stolen.