Tag Archives: Adoption

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr Katherine Zappone

This morning.

In the Irish Examiner.

Conall Ó Fátharta reports:

During questioning from forum [Mother and Baby Home Collaborative Forum] members, the delegation was shown an almost entirely redacted death cert the agency sent to a 69-year-old woman.

The woman was among the 126 cases of illegal birth registrations Tusla discovered in the records of the St Patrick’s Guild adoption agency. Its records transferred to Tusla in 2016.

The certificate was for the woman’s mother, but all information apart from a doctor’s signature and cause of death was redacted by Tusla, including details of the registrar general.

As the recipient of the record had never been legally adopted, the delegation was asked what legislative basis Tusla had “to start interfering with public records”.

“I think the reason to redact all of that is to ensure that it can’t be found in the GRO [General Registration Office] because it is third-party information as per GDPR,” the Tusla representative said.

Mr Ó Fátharta also reports:

The Irish Examiner has obtained an audio recording of that meeting [between the forum and representatives of Tusla] in which a member of the delegation said the agency carries out a “risk assessment” as to the “likelihood of someone being harmed or not harmed” before it decides whether or not to release personal information to adopted people about their early lives.

….The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) has said there are around 150,000 adoption records in existence and approximately 100,000 of these are currently in the custody of Tusla or the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI). Tusla has held many of the records since 2014.

Tusla censored death cert so it ‘can’t be found’ (Conall Ó Fátharta, The Irish Examiner)

Tusla relying on ‘flimsy grounds’ to justify redacting records and birth certs (Conall Ó Fátharta, The Irish Examiner)

Previously: “Who Are They Trying To Protect Here?”

Conflating And Confusing Privacy And Secrecy

Rollingnews

UPDATE:

From Tusla’s Quarterly Service Performance and Activity Report for the first three months of 2019

A quarterly report from Tusla – for the first three months of 2019 – states there were 699 new inquiries made to the agency’s Adoption Information and Tracing Service during that period of time.

These are inquiries made by adopted people, birth parents, adoptive parents, siblings
of adopted people and other birth relatives and people raised in long-term foster care.

The 699 figure represents a 173 per cent increase when compared to the first quarter of 2018.

The same report states there was also a rise in tracing applications made with 291 new tracing applications received by Tusla in the first quarter of this year.

In regards to the length of time people who have made an application have to wait for personal information and/or the allocation of a social worker, it varies.

Those seeking personal information under GDPR legislation have had to wait anything from six weeks to six months, when Tusla’s own target is eight weeks.

Those waiting to be allocated a social worker, as part of a priority 1 application – where a birth parent is older than 70 – have had to wait anything up to 14 months, as opposed to Tusla’s target of three months or less.

Those waiting to be allocated a social worker, as part of a priority 2 application – where the applicant has a non-life limiting medical condition and/or were previously in state care – have had to wait anything from six weeks to six months, as opposed to Tusla’s target of six months or less.

Those waiting to be allocated a social worker for all other types of applications have had to wait anything between three months and more than three years, compared to Tusla’s target of 12 months or less.

The report can be read in full here

Tusla struggles to cope with adoption record demands (Conall Ó Fátharta, Irish Examiner)

Previously: Who Do You Think You Are?

Conflating And Confusing Privacy And Secrecy

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ms Zappone said she had listened to the concerns of adopted people and the changes, in her view, balance the right to privacy with the right to identity.

The new law, which will move to the committee stage in the Seanad today, has been delayed because of concerns about the privacy of natural or birth parents in cases where an adopted person is looking for information.

It is now proposed that the child and family agency Tusla would contact birth parents in relation to any request for information and, if they object to its release, the Adoption Authority of Ireland would make a decision.

Zappone – Adoption law giving access to records ‘a step forward’ (RTÉ)

Mairead Enright writes:

It is not at all clear how adopted people’s rights will be safeguarded by the above process, especially given Tusla’s poor history

This proposal is completely out of step with European norms. It is also a disproportionate measure which assumes adopted people are a “threat” to their natural parents’ wellbeing.

Once the new legislation is passed, the Attorney General is proposing that people adopted in future should have automatic access to their full file once they reach adulthood.

So these are discriminatory provisions affecting people adopted in the era of the laundries and the Mother and Baby Homes.

Together with proposals under the Retention of Records Bill 2019, which will seal testimonies of records of child abuse for 75 years, this legislation shows that the state is not willing to face up to the past.

If anything, this imposition of state control reinscribes the shaming and silencing mechanisms used against natural mothers under Ireland’s regime of forced (and often illegal) adoption.

People must have access, at a minimum, to their unredacted early life records *and* to their birth certs (which are already public records).

Natural mothers should also be able to access their state records.

Amendments to the Bill could also be used to establish meaningful information, matching and tracing services and an independent archive of relevant records.

There is a lot more wrong with the Bill, but the basic assumption that this category of adopted people should be quarantined in this way is highly objectionable and should be resisted.

Oh and before the AG says “but the Constitution”, there is no absolute constitutional right to anonymity. The right to privacy of natural mothers must be balanced against the right to identity.

And anyway framing this as “mothers vs adopted people” isn’t the point. Adults are capable of navigating this information regime, and the state should assist them to do so, not continue to frustrate them.

Meanwhile…

Claire McGettrick tweetz:

A tiny sample of the pages which Tusla redacted in my adoption file before sending to me. I’m happily reunited with my mother for over 25 years, so who are they trying to ‘protect’ here? Adopted people are being left behind in so-called modern Ireland #EndSecrecyNow #Stand4Truth

Anyone?

The Four Courts in Dublin

This morning.

At the High Court before Judge Richard Humphries.

A single mother, who was the foster carer for a baby born prematurely with severe health difficulties for more than a year, will challenge the actions of Tusla in the hope that what she claims happened to her won’t happen to anyone else.

In March of last year, the mum-of-two, who has fostered more than a dozen children in the past, responded to a call-out from Tusla for a volunteer to sit with the baby in a hospital, and cuddle it, as, Tusla said, the then three-month-old baby hadn’t had any significant human contact since it was born.

As time went on, the mother began fostering the baby and underwent specialised training to learn how to feed and care for it.

She sought to adopt the baby but she was told it was the birth mother’s wish that the child be adopted by a married couple. However, Tusla organised for her to have a legal consultation on the matter.

In April of this year, while the child with severe special needs was recovering in hospital following surgery, the mother claims it was abruptly removed from the hospital and given to a couple in the process of adopting the child.

The adoption process in regards to the child is not yet complete but it’s expected to be finalised in several months.

However, by seeking a judicial review of how Tusla handled the case, the mother wants to stop the adoption process which Tusla has started with the couple and she’s also seeking an order compelling Tusla to consider her application to adopt the child.

She claims Tusla didn’t follow procedure, didn’t provide for a proper transitioning period and didn’t give her adequate notice of what was going to happen.

She also claims the best interests of the child were not served in how Tusla handled the case.

An internal Tulsa investigation into the matter is also already under way.

Related: Single mum takes Tusla to court after agency takes away foster baby (Mark Tighe, The Sunday Times)

Foster mother loses custody of child because birth mother wants kid to go to “a couple” (Irish Mirror, April 28, 2018)

UPDATE: 

The mother has been granted a judicial review and will come back before the High Court on October 16.

I’ve just heard Pope Francis’s comments during his papal Mass that those who told mothers it was a mortal sin to search for their children and vice versa were wrong.

He said it is the fourth commandment. I looked it up: honour thy father and thy mother.

I’m adopted. Might my mother have searched for me if this society, in fear of the Roman Catholic church, had not shamed her into emigration like so many?

I made a freedom of information request to Tusla. I was shocked to receive 58 pages mostly censored with black ink, many were blank with a large black X covering the whole page and the word “redacted” in the centre.

Your right to identity is a human right; Article 8 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) says: “1. States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognised by law without unlawful interference.

“2. Where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of his or her identity, States Parties shall provide appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to re-establishing speedily his or her identity.”

During a Dáil debate on illegal registrations by St Patrick’s Guild adoption society, which dealt with my adoption, Joan Burton TD said “adopted people are still the only people who do not have fundamental human rights in this country . . . there are many people buried in the Irish systems of administration and politics who think the sky will fall in if these rights are realised, but we have provided referendums on gay marriage, reproductive rights and divorce. This is the only issue still outstanding.”

Will the State listen to Pope Francis?

Joan Reidy,
Malahide,
Co Dublin.

Adoption and right to information (The Irish Times letters page)

Pic: RTE

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar have made emotional responses to the latest adoption scandal.

This evening.

The Coalition of Mother And Baby home Survivors (CMABS) are “united in rejecting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s assertion that it is too early to consider redress or free DNA tests” for the victims of the latest adoption related scandal.

Paul Redmond of CMABS writes:

Once again, the Government’s instant response to survivors and victims is to fob them off and began the endless series of excuses, stalling, scoping exercises and sub committees, while illegally adopted people and their natural mothers continue to die by the hundreds.

CMABS notes for the record that despite extensive lobbying by campaigners, Minister Zappone has already rejected including illegally adopted people in the current Inquiry into Mother and Baby homes and related matters.

Illegally adopted people are the victims of crime and as such, have a right to ‘legal remedy’ under domestic and international law. Minister Zappone has denied illegal adoptees and their natural mothers this most basic human and civil right, and now continues to do so with the support of an uncaring Taoiseach.

Campaigners have long insisted that a national DNA database for adopted people and natural mothers is one of the very few ways progress can be made here but, it has been consistently rejected.

The victims of this latest scandal will almost certainly need long term counseling to assist them in dealing with their new situations but there is no sign of any such facility or funding at present.

There should be modest interim payments to victims – both illegal adoptees and their natural mothers – to give them the time and space to deal with the shock, possibly take time off work and, source local counseling.

Taoiseach Varadkar and Minister Zappone need to urgently address this matter by meeting with representative groups and listening, instead of never ending cheap soundbites in the media followed by years of inaction while survivors die.

A national DNA database with free tests for survivors, an moderate interim redress payment and free counseling are the bare minimum required in this instance.

CMABS notes that there is also a severe deficit of political will in Ireland to deal with the dark history of our country and the living survivors who still bear the scars to this day.

CMABS also notes our calls for a dedicated unit of civil servants, Gardai and social workers with the power to seize records, and pro actively investigate illegal adoptions, has been consistently rejected for many years.

There is still time to prosecute any persons left alive who have been complicit in these inhuman crimes.

Survivors of Mother and Baby homes, forced adoptions, illegal adoptions and a myriad of immoral and criminal activity, are a dying community.

It seems state policy is currently to carry on denying and stalling every inch of the way, while we die, to reduce the final cost.

This is nothing but a shameful reflection on our national politics and a lack of courage and political will by Varadkar and Zappone who have once again shamed themselves personally with their mealy mouthed response to the elderly victims of odious crimes.

Paul is author of the recently-published Adoption Machine: The Dark History of Ireland’s Mother and Baby Homes and the Inside Story of How Tuam 800 Became a Global Scandal (Irish Academic Press)

Coalition of Mother And Baby Homes (CMABS)

Adoption registration issue is ‘another dark chapter’ – Varadkar (RTE)

Earlier: Orientated Toward The ‘Better Class of Girl’

Yesterday: ‘People May never Know They Were Adopted’



Top from left: Professor Geoffrey Shannon, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone, Cormac Quinlan, Director of Transformation and Policy, at a news conference in Government Buildings today about the 126 cases where births were incorrectly registered between 1946 and 1969.

This afternoon.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said that following an initial examination of around 13,500 records from St Patrick’s Guild, Tusla was able to identify the incorrect registrations because, unusually, there was a marker specifying “adopted from birth” on the record.

The minister said further cases may emerge and in some of the 129 cases these people may not know they were adopted.

She said there is no record for 79 of them ever contacting the adoption society, while 31 were in contact but may not be fully aware of the illegal registration.

Tusla will now contact people in the 126 cases according to the minister because “people have a right to know who they are”.

[Incorrect or ‘false’ registrations occur where a child is placed with a couple or individual who was not the parent, but the birth is then registered as if the child had been born to that couple or individual]

126 people identified as having had births incorrectly registered by adoption agency (RTÉ)

Rollingnews

Update:

Via The Coalition of Mother And Baby home Survivors (CMABS):

The Government admitted today they have just “discovered’ dozens or false birth registrations in the Saint Patrick’s Guild adoption agency files.

Once again, this is just the tip of a very large iceberg of fraud, forgery, baby trafficking, child abduction and criminal activity by rogue Irish adoption agencies who have destroyed tens of thousands of innocent peoples’ lives.

It’s important to note that the Government has known all about this for more than 20 years when Alan Shatter and Francis Fitzgerald as opposition TDs, in the Dáil, made detailed speeches about illegal practices in adoption agencies and named Saint Patrick’s Guild.

Shatter and Fitzgerald both went on to become Ministers for Justice and yet never lifted a finger while in office. Francis Fitzgerald was also a former social worker and Minister for Children with direct responsibility for these matters, and yet did nothing in office despite constant demands to take urgent action.

It is also important to note that the adoption community has been calling for an audit of Saint Patrick’s Guild files, and other agencies, for over 20 years.

Government after government have willfully ignored such calls while adoptees have died by the thousands.

Perhaps the most vital issue here is that illegally adopted people have spent generations going to their Doctors and hospitals and unknowingly giving false – and potentially lethal – family medical histories that do not in fact relate to them. Illegal adoptees carry on this practice for their children and even their grandchildren.

Theresa Hiney who founded the ‘Adopted Illegally Ireland’ group in 2008, has been a voice in the wilderness loudly demanding immediate action for more than 10 years and has been ignored by officialdom who are terrified of what audits of the adoption agencies will reveal.

Clare Daly T. has tackled successive Governments on these issues in the Dáil since 2012 and has been rebuffed and sneered at by a one Minister after another who have refused to take action.

Daly has been proved the only TD who could see the injustice and campaigned with the adoption and survivor communities while everyone else ran and hid.

The survivor and adoptee communities demand IMMEDIATE ACTION to tackle this issue. Theresa Hiney, ‘Adopted Illegally Ireland’, and the ‘Coalition of Mother And Baby homes Survivors’ renew our years old joint call for a dedicated unit made up of civil servants, Gardai and social workers, to actively investigate this matter and inform illegal adoptees of their status.

CMABS notes the Gardai have been sent in. A through, well resourced, and full criminal investigation needs to follow as a matter of urgency.”

CMABS (Facebook)

Thanks Paul Redmond