news world

Eighty-one-year-old adoptee applies to trace family under new Irish law | Ireland

An 81-year-old, adopted as a child, and a 74-year-old mother who had her baby adopted are among 900 people who have registered to trace their parents and children after landmark legislation was passed in Ireland.

The public response to the new laws, which came into force on 1 July, is opening decades-old wounds for children and parents who were separated at birth, some sent to the UK or the US, over the past 100 years.

The data released on Thursday by the Adoption Authority of Ireland indicate many have lived to late adulthood without knowing who their birth parents are.

Of the 891 who have registered the AAI said oldest person to request for their data is 81 and the mean age of applicants (both parent and child) is 50.

The youngest is a five-year-old whose adoption parents have registered on their behalf.

Of the 786 who are seeking contact with parents, 74% want information on their birth mother with 17% seeking data on their father and 9% are seeking contact about a brother, sister or multiple siblings.

This reflects pressure that was put on unmarried mothers in Catholic Ireland to give up their babies for adoption, but who went on to have more children later in life.

Others are seeking contact with a grandparent, cousin, aunt or uncle AAI said.

The 81-year-old seeking their birth data would have been informally adopted as adoption was not legal until 1953 presenting a challenging task for anyone seeking to find their birth parents before the new legislation.

The laws which came into force last month provide all adoptees legal entitlement to full and unrestricted access to birth certificates, birth, early life, care, and medical information for any person who was adopted.

Those who were informally adopted before 1953, a process known as “boarded out” or who had their birth illegally registered can also apply for their data.

Last month the AAI, which is charged with managing the process, launched an awareness campaign to reach adult adoptees who were taken into families in the UK, the US and elsewhere.

The AAI said most of the 891 people who had registered within the first month of the laws being enacted were from Ireland.

Just over 100 come from overseas, 40 of them from the UK, 17 from the US and four from Australia.

The Birth Information and Tracing Act allows adoptees or relatives to register their preference for contact with a parent of child up until October when the tracing process can legally start formally. In October they can then apply to obtain the data.

AAI chief executive Patricia Carey said: “We are very encouraged by the number of people who have registered.

“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.

It is known that 48,000 children were adopted between 1953 and 2021 with an additional 2,000 children known to have been sent overseas and another 20,000 “boarded out”.

If you have been affected by the new laws and want to share your story now or in future, please email [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button