Discovery of illegal adoption registrations for those born between 1949 and 1969 is described by Barnardos as ‘a scandal’ and by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as ‘another dark chapter in our history
Ireland’s Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone admitted that some of the people known to be affected may never be contacted because their true identities had been deliberately concealed. Some people are known to have “lost their true identity”, she said.
“I am truly sorry that this has happened,” she told reporters and said this latest affair will have “profound implications” for many. Of the 126 cases made public last week about eleven of those people are believed to be here in Britain, seven in Northern Ireland, one in the US and another in Viet Nam.
In addition to the 126 cases disclosed last week, of whom as many as a hundred people may be learning for the first time that they were adopted, Tusla is examining a further 16 cases, she said. Ms Zappone’s Department said that if a person was born between 1946 and 1969 and was placed in St Patrick’s Guild and does not have an adoption order, then they, too, may be affected.
The Minister said some of the people affected may never be contacted because some files were “deliberately designed” to conceal identities, she said. The private adoption service “knowingly concealed the truth and deprived people of their true identity”.
“There will be implications for people’s sense of identity.
“I am keenly aware that many of those affected have no idea that the people they regarded as their parents were not in fact their birth parents.
“In many cases, as far as we are aware, they have no reason to suspect.”
In other cases, she said, some of the affected men and women raised suspicions but never had those suspicions confirmed.
“In effect, babies were given to a couple and registered as the child of that couple and not of the baby’s birth parents. There is no adoption order, and so no record with the Adoption Authority of Ireland.”
“For people who are in their middle age and older, to be told at this stage in their lives that their parents are not their birth parents and that their births were deliberately and falsely registered will be nothing short of traumatic for them and those around them.
“In addition to possible psychological issues of identity there are also potentially serious issues relating to the correcting of birth records and inheritance,” she said.
The false registrations had been “covered up” down through the years, she said. The controversy was unearthed when Tusla officials discovered the phrase “adopted from birth” on 126 files.
When checked in conjunction with the Adoption Authority they couldn’t find any record of these adoptions. The department said it had “limited information” and some of the files in question were more than 50 years old. Some individuals may never be contacted because some files were “deliberately designed to conceal identities”.
For the others, social workers are expected to make contact. A social worker has been assigned to every case. The birth mother will also be contacted, as will the people who participated in the incorrect registrations and subsequently raised the child as their own. The government has promised that there will be “no sudden phone calls or unannounced visits to people’s doors”.
St Patrick’s Guild arranged thousands of adoptions between the 1940s and 1970s. It no longer arranges adoptions, but has been involved with search queries. It has been criticised in the past for failing to provide full and adequate records to those seeking them.
Marion Reynolds, a former deputy director of social services in Northern Ireland, has been asked to oversee the independent review of up to 150,000 further adoption records. Ms Reynolds will make recommendations to the government about what further form of investigation would be appropriate.
Tusla has also notified the Commission on Mother and Baby Homes. That investigation is looking into adoption practices in the cases of mothers and children who were resident in the homes. Ms Zappone said yesterday that those involved in the process of the illegal adoptions “may have been motivated at the time” by a belief that this was “best for the child”.
“Today, as a society, we think very differently. To those who lost their true identity, and to the birth mothers who placed their children in good faith, thinking they would be legally adopted, I am truly sorry that this has happened,” she said.
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