The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 (the “Bill”) which was published by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in November 2016, will, if enacted, serve to effect significant change to adoption legislation.

Representing the most significant reform to adoption law in recent years, the Bill provides for the following key changes:

  1. Providing the Adoption Authority (the “Authority”) with overall control and responsibility for the safeguarding and compiling of adoption records, including informal and incorrect adoption registrations;
  2. Facilitating the construction of an electronically searchable database to include all records;
  3. Establishing a Register of Adoption Contact Enquiries, maintained by the Authority, to update and improve upon the existing database of information available;
  4. Implementing a tracing service, to be operated by Tusla;
  5. Notifying birth parents when an adoptee wishes to access their birth information, and establishing contact where requested; and
  6. Providing birth parents with an opportunity to make a case as to why contact would be against the best interests of all, subject to agreement by the Adoption Authority and the Circuit Court.

The Bill provides that adoptees aged 18 or over prior to the enactment of the legislation have a statutory entitlement to information, including informal adoptees and those deemed to be registered incorrectly. In order to access the information sought, existing adoptees will be required to sign an undertaking that no contact will be made with birth parents upon the provision of that information.

Where an adoption occurs after the enactment of the legislation, adoptees will be entitled to full disclosure of all information. This disclosure will however be subject to the will of the birth parents and shall not be restricted unless the Circuit Court or the Adoption Authority are satisfied that compelling reasons exist to restrict such information.

With the cooperation of Tusla, it is envisaged that the legislation will facilitate the Authority in improving both individual adoptions and the adoption system as a whole by allowing all parties involved to make informed decisions throughout the adoption process. The progress of the legislation will be followed with interest.

The Bill can be accessed in full here.