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Press Release, 11th March 2015 – For immediate release

 

Adoption Rights Alliance concerned about identity rights in Children and Family Relationships Bill 

Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA), which advocates for equal identity rights for those affected by Ireland’s closed, secret, forced adoption system has said while there is much to welcome in the Children and Family Relationships Bill, it is nonetheless concerned that the Bill does not go far enough to ensure that history does not repeat itself. 

ARA’s concerns cover three main areas: a) the lack of retrospective rights for those born before the enactment of this legislation b) the lack of information provided while the child is growing up and c) the information sought from the donor at the time of donation is wholly insufficient. The organisation has submitted a Briefing Note to the Oireachtas, urging legislators to implement the necessary changes.

It is now 63 years after the introduction of adoption legislation in Ireland, which contains no provision for up to 100,000 adopted people to learn about their families of origin. Yet, ironically, through this Bill the Irish State is legislating for the identity rights of a relatively small number of donor conceived people whilst continuing to ignore the much publicised plight of adopted people. 

People conceived by anonymous egg and sperm donation and those adopted as embryos face the same identity issues as adopted people, which is why ARA has campaigned on this issue since its foundation in 2009 and since 2003 through our predecessor organisation, AdoptionIreland.   We are still learning from Ireland’s past practices of closed, secret, forced adoption and we hope that those who are donor conceived can benefit from our experience and be spared the injustice of having to grow up without access to their full identities.   

ARA is deeply disappointed that this Bill does not provide for retrospective rights for donor conceived people.  These children and adults should not be ignored simply because the State has failed to act in time.  At the very least, the State should provide a service to assist those who are affected in establishing their genetic heritage, and it should ensure that the donors in question are obliged to put their details on the National Donor Conceived Person Register. 

While we welcome the inclusion of a note on the birth certificates of donor conceived people, we believe the Bill does not go far enough to ensure that children grow up knowing about their genetic heritage.  Simply put, one’s identity should not be provided as an 18th birthday present. The details sought amount to no more than a thumbnail sketch, comparable to the non-identifying information given to Ireland's 100,000 adopted people, which has been roundly rejected as utterly insufficient. 

Furthermore, the level of information gathered about donors under this legislation is completely inadequate for donor conceived people to learn about their genetic heritage.  In this context we are disturbed to read the commentary by some doctors in media who have argued against the ban on anonymous donations and for this reason, we believe that the strictest possible regulation should be in place to ensure that DAHR operators are bound to uphold the identity rights of the children involved. 

Finally, ARA wishes to point out that heterosexual couples also avail of assisted human reproductive services and we are strongly critical of commentators from a minority section of society who unfairly focus on lesbian and gay parents in the context of this legislation.  In our opinion this has resulted in the real issues surrounding children’s rights being lost, because the debate is invariably dominated by those who are operating from a different agenda and who have no track record in campaigning for identity rights for adopted people. 

ARA urges legislators to listen to the voice of those who have experience of closed secret adoption, because ignorance will not be an acceptable excuse when donor conceived adults come forward seeking information about their genetic heritage in the future.  

Ends. 

Click here to download the briefing note

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“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning . . . and the most disquieting loneliness." 

Alex Haley, Author of Roots 



 

 

 

 

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