Press Release

Adoption – An Option? – Hanafin

The Minister for Children Mary Hanafin T.D. today (Saturday, 3 November, 2001) highlighted the proposed legislation on adoption information and adoption contact as a major piece of social legislation.

Minister Hanafin was speaking at a conference on Adoption, Search and Reunion hosted by the Council for Irish Adoption Agencies (CIAA).

“In recent years there has been considerable pressure from adopted people to have access to information about themselves and their birth families and some birth mothers would like access to information about the health and well being of the children given for up for adoption” she said.

The Minister acknowledged that the present system for search and reunion is unstructured and unregulated and she paid tribute to the health boards and Adoption Agencies who are carrying out this work.

The proposed legislation which is currently being drafted provides for a structured system with the Adoption Board having a major role in this extremely sensitive area.

Minister Hanafin also noted that the significant decline in the number of children being placed for adoption in Ireland in recent years. To date this year there have been 56 adoption orders made for children placed by adoption societies and health boards and yet 1,000 couples are willing to travel to the far side of the world to adopt a child from abroad.

The Minister pointed out that “adoption was at one stage the only option for many young women because of society´s attitude to children born outside marriage. These adoptions were closed and secret, with the mother having no role or involvement in her child’s future. In recent years however, the tide has turned so far that adoption has become for many women an option which they cannot consider because the social pressure to keep a child is now extremely strong. Ideally, I would like to see a situation where a woman could give genuine consideration to adoption without feeling pressurised either to give up or to keep her baby, so that her final decision will be in the best interests of both her child and herself. A key element in reaching that position will be the openness of the modern adoption system”.

She added “where adoption is being considered as an option by parents it is important that they are confident that the information provided by them to the agency will be valuable to the child and will form an integral part of telling the child about their background in the future. In an increasing number of cases the natural mother meets the adopters and may obtain information about the child while the child is growing up”.

“I look forward to the introduction of a system of search and reunion which will respect the rights of all parties as I am concious of the sensitivities of all the people involved”. the Minister said.