Birth information & tracing bill signed into law with new contact preference register now open.

The Adoption Authority of Ireland has welcomed the commencement of the Birth Information and Tracing Act 2022 and invites adopted persons, parents, and others affected by the Act to register their preferences in relation to contact with the Authority.

The landmark legislation, which has been signed into law by President Michael D Higgins, provides legal entitlement to full and unrestricted access to birth certificates, birth, early life, care and medical information for any person who was adopted, boarded out, had their birth illegally registered, or who otherwise has questions in relation to their origins.

The new law also establishes a Contact Preference Register, operated by the Adoption Authority, as well as a range of new bespoke measures to address issues arising for people affected by illegal birth registration. A broad spectrum of counselling and support is also available to persons affected on request. All of these services will be free of charge for applicants.

A public information campaign has been launched by the Adoption Authority to inform people of the important services to be provided under the Birth Information and Tracing Act 2022. The campaign, which will run for three months, includes delivery of an information booklet to every household in the State and will use Ireland’s embassy network to reach those in other countries who are affected by the legislation.

From today, applications can be made to the Contact Preference Register by those wishing to make contact, to request privacy, or to seek or share information with a relative. The Act provides that the Contact Preference Register must be open for a minimum period of three months before applications for birth certificate and related birth information will be accepted. If a mother or father wishes to register a contact preference, they are invited to do so before the Information Service opens for applications in October, 2022. When records are released, only contact preferences recorded on the register at that point in time can be released. However, contact preferences can still be registered after that date.

Patricia Carey, CEO of the Adoption Authority of Ireland
Photograph: Nick Bradshaw for Irish Times. 

Patricia Carey, CEO of the Adoption Authority of Ireland, said: “The Contact Preference Register empowers people to record their preferences in relation to contact with others and the sharing and receiving of information.

“The Birth Information and Tracing Act ensures that everyone is entitled to all their birth information held by the State, and the Contact Preference Register provides for varying levels of contact at which both parties are comfortable. It might be that someone is willing to share background information, they might be willing to communicate by email or letter, they might be open to a telephone call, or they might be willing to meet in person. Others may wish no contact at all.

“Most families in Ireland have been touched by adoption at some stage. The Adoption Authority wants to use the next three months trying to reach as many people as possible – including those living abroad – to let them know it is now possible for them to find out about their origins. We also want to encourage all those eligible under the legislation to register their preferences on the Contact Preference Register.”

In early October 2022, both Information and Tracing services under the legislation will open. Applications for these services can be made to the Adoption Authority of Ireland and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. A website, www.birthinfo.ie, has been established for people seeking to make an application under the Act or seeking further information.

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