Ireland gives adopted people access to birth records
On 30 June 2022 Irish President Michal D. Higgins signed The Birth Information and Tracing Act which made it possible for any person who was adopted, boarded out, had their birth illegally registered, or who otherwise has questions in relation to their origins to access information about their birth. This law allowed legal entitlement to full and unrestricted access to birth certificates, birth, early life, care and medical information. The law also established a statutory Tracing Service that would allow people to trace family members, seek a reunion, or simply share or seek information – such as vital medical information. Additionally, the act allowed access to information by a child when their parent has died and for access by next-of-kin when a child died in an institution.[i]
When the law was proposed in January 2022, Roderic O’Gorman, minister for Children, said “the new law sought to end Ireland’s ‘outlier status’ on the issue.” The government hoped the law would end a “historic wrong”, including for thousands sent for adoption in secret by Catholic Institutions.[ii] [iii]
Three months later, on October 3, 2022, the information and tracing service specified in this legislation opened on a new web site called Birth Information & Tracing. This site provides access to birth information as well as a statutory tracing service which allows adoptees to trace family members, seek a reunion or simply share or seek information such as vital medical data.[iv]
Patricia Carey, the CEO of the Adoption Authority of Ireland, described the launch of the new services as a historic moment: "The new birth information and tracing services are about bringing comfort and understanding to the many families in Ireland who have been touched by adoption. They are about providing thousands of adopted people with information that they’ve wanted for a very long time – information that was always their own but which only now they are legally entitled to receive."[v]
Authorities are permitted up to 30 days to respond to requests. Adoption rights activists are waiting to see how well the service works since 1,197 applications have been received by the Adoption Authority of Ireland within the first week the site was launched.[vi]
Information requests can be made to the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) and Tusla, Ireland's Child and Family Agency, online here.
Additional information about the law and the tracing service can be found in the pamphlet Birth Information & Tracing.
[i] “Irish Birth Information and Tracing Bill becomes law,” BBC News 30 June 2022, (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-61994967: accessed 9 Oct. 2022). [ii] Ireland to give adopted people access for birth records to end ‘historic wrong”,” The Guardian, 12 Jan. 2022 (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/12/ireland-give-adopted-people-access-birth-records-end-historic-wrong : accessed 9 Oct. 2022). [iii] “Minister O’Corman publishes Birth Information and Tracing Bill,” 12 Jan. 2022, Government of Ireland (https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/4ac84-minister-ogorman-publishes-birth-information-and-tracing-bill/ : accessed 9 Oct. 2022). [iv] “The Birth Information and Tracing Act is now here,” The Adoption Authority of Ireland (https://aai.gov.ie/en/ : accessed 9 Oct 2022). [v] “Information and Tracing Services under the Birth Information and Tracing Act 2022 open from today,” Press release from the Government of Ireland, 3 Oct. 2022 (https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/55539-information-and-tracing-services-under-the-birth-information-and-tracing-act-2022-open-from-today-joint-messaging/ : accessed 9 Oct. 2022). [vi] “Ireland Opens Decades of Secret Records to Adoptees, DNYUZ 7 Oct. 2022 (). Note this article first appeared in the NY Times on 7 Oct. 2022). ALSO “Over 1,000 apply online to find their adoption story,” The Sunday Times, 9 Oct. 2022 (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/5bf0deb2-4746-11ed-b6ed-f47de7cde676?shareToken=93abdb03cdaa279ec271aea72a27af60 : accessed 9 Oct. 2022).