Eighteen adopted persons and relatives from Mayo applied to the new Contact Preference Register last month, following the commencement of the Birth Information and Tracing Act 2022. The breakdown for Mayo was 16 adopted persons and two relatives applying to the register.
The landmark legislation, which was enacted on July 1, provides legal entitlement to full and unrestricted access to birth certificates, birth, early life, care, and medical information for any person who was adopted, boarded out, had their birth illegally registered, or who otherwise has questions in relation to their origins.
The new law also establishes a Contact Preference Register (CPR ) to which applications can be made by those wishing to make contact, to request privacy, or to seek or share information with a relative. The Adoption Authority of Ireland operates the CPR.
Of the 891 people who applied to register their preferences in relation to contact, 786 applications were from adoptees, 90 were from birth parents, and 15 were other relatives. There were 820 people who expressed a preference for contact at some level. There were 32 people who expressed a desire for no contact (24 adoptees and 8 relatives ) while 39 applicants (30 adoptees and nine relatives ) did not want contact but were willing to share information.
As part of a public information campaign around the Birth Information and Tracing Act, a booklet on the important services to be provided under the new legislation is being delivered to every household in Ireland.
Patricia Carey, CEO of the Adoption Authority, said: "We are very encouraged by the number of people who have registered on the Contact Preference Register. These are mostly adoptees – but also birth parents and other relatives – for whom the Birth Information and Tracing Act is a really important piece of legislation.
"Come October, when the free services under the legislation open, adoptees will finally have the right to access all of their birth information held by the State. This wasn’t the case previously, so it is a big deal.
"If they have applied to the Contact Preference Register, the Adoption Authority will also be able to facilitate contact between adoptees and birth parents and other relatives, at a level with which both parties are comfortable.
"The 1.85 million booklets landing on doorsteps throughout the country explain what the new legislation means and how this works. I would urge anyone impacted by the legislation to read and consider the information it contains, and perhaps talk to a trusted friend, before deciding what they want to do."
The majority of all applications, 786, came from people in Ireland, with 105 applications from those who live overseas. The greatest number of applications from outside Ireland came from the UK, with 50 people registering contact preferences. Next was the US with 17 applications, followed by Australia with four.
The county in Ireland with the most applications in July was Dublin, with 253 people registering preferences, followed by Cork with 118 applications, and Meath with 48. The county with the fewest applications was Leitrim with four.
The oldest applicant to the CPR was 81, while the youngest, aged five, had an application submitted by their adoptive parents. The mean age of both adoptees and relatives was 50.
Of the 786 adoptees who applied to the CPR, 74% of them (580 people ) are seeking contact with their birth mother. Almost 17% (130 ) of applicants stated they wanted to trace their birth father, with 9% (69 ) seeking contact with a sibling, and 1.3% (10 ) seeking contact with a grandparent, cousin, aunt, or uncle.
Of the 105 relatives who applied to the CPR, 86% of them (90 people ) are seeking contact with their child, just under 5% (five people ) said they wanted to contact siblings, and almost 10 % (10 people ) are seeking contact with a grandparent, cousin, aunt, or uncle.
More than 48,000 children were adopted from 1953 to 2021. An additional 2,000+ children were sent from Ireland to other countries – mainly the United States – and adopted in these countries. In addition, an estimated 20,000+ children were ‘boarded out’ – sent to live with foster families at a time before 1953 when there was no legal adoption in Ireland.
Ms Carey added: "Most families in Ireland have been touched by adoption at some stage. The Adoption Authority is determined to reach as many people as possible – to let them know they can find out about their origins and to encourage all those eligible under the legislation to register their preferences on the Contact Preference Register."
In October, both Information and Tracing services under the legislation will open. Applications for these services can be made to the Adoption Authority of Ireland and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. A website, www.birthinfo.ie, has been established for people seeking to make an application under the Act or seeking further information.