Legislation giving adopted people right to access birth certificates set to be published

The legislation, which is being brought forward by Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, was promised following the publication of the report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission last year.
Legislation giving adopted people right to access birth certificates set to be published

New legislation which will give adopted people the right to access their original birth certificate and other personal information is set to go to Cabinet on Wednesday and be published this week.

As reported in The Irish Times, under the new legislation, adopted people will be able to learn the identity of their birth parents, even where they object.

The legislation, which is being brought forward by Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, was promised following the publication of the report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission last year.

The right has been called for by campaigners for decades, however previous governments have cited difficulties legislating for it due to the rights of privacy of the birth mother.

Under the new Birth Information and Tracing Bill, priority will be given to the adopted person who is seeking information by giving them access to their original birth certificate.

According to attorney general Paul Gallagher, under European law, the right to access an original birth certificate surpasses the birth mother’s right to privacy.

However, birth mothers will be able to register their preference for no contact which will be communicated to the adopted person in an informational session with a social worker. The adopted person will also be informed about the importance of respecting the privacy and preference of their birth mother before they are given a copy of the birth certificate.

Information relating to father's identities will also be accessible, however, this was not recorded in many cases.

The new legislation also provides for the establishment of a national tracing service to facilitate people who wish to establish contact with their birth relatives.

It will also provide for a contact preference register for people to register their preferences for contact.

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