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Thursday 9 February 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Shutterstock/Smolaw The agencies said they have struggled with the 'large volume' of requests.
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Waiting time for adopted people to get birth information triples to 90 days
Tusla and the AAI are finding it “difficult” to process and respond to all applications due to the high demand.

CAMPAIGNERS HAVE CRITICISED the “long delays” facing people who have requested their birth information after agencies confirmed the waiting period is set to be triple the wait previously planned.

Instead of 30 days, many people now face a wait of 90 days or more through the new Birth Information and Tracing system.

It affects people who were adopted, boarded out or subject to an illegal birth registration  – as of this month they can request access to their birth certificates and early life information.

Campaigners have said they are “deeply disappointed” and “incredulous” at the new delay. 

A joint statement issued by Tusla and the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) today said they are “acutely aware of the disappointment” for people awaiting their birth information, and apologised for the delays.

A combined total of 6,552 applications from people seeking their birth and early years information, or to trace a relative, have been received by both agencies since the new services launched on 3 October.

They said they are “experiencing a high level of interest” in the provisions of the new Birth Information and Tracing Act and said they welcomed the correspondingly high number of applications from people availing of the new services.

So far, the two agencies have processed and issued just 65 requests for information.

“We are acutely aware of the disappointment this may cause and we sincerely apologise for the delay in processing applications,” a statement on BirthInfo.ie read.

“Both agencies are doing their utmost to respond to all the applications received within the shortest timeframe. We will continue to keep every person who is waiting for information informed about their application.”

The statement added that the AAI is also processing 2,705 applications made to the Contact Preference Register and has successfully identified 154 matches for relatives for whom they are facilitating contact and reunion.

Processing the initial “large volume of information requests is proving to be a challenge”, despite the daily numbers stabilising since 12 October, the statement continued. 

“While we welcome the large volume of applications, it is proving difficult to respond to all requests within the timeframes set out.

“Because of this, Tusla and AAI are writing to affected applicants, advising them of the delay and assuring them of the commitment to respond as soon as possible.”

‘Time-consuming’

It added that searching for and extracting the records is “time-consuming, sensitive and involves meticulous attention to detail given the historical nature and condition of the records”.

The issue is exacerbated by records being held across a range of locations or databases, according to the agencies. 

Adoption rights campaigner Claire McGettrick said the agencies and Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman should have been prepared for a high number of applications.

“The State has had many, many months to prepare for this. It’s something that’s obviously of huge interest to people so we’re incredulous that this has happened,” she told The Journal

Bearing in mind that trust levels are just so so low among the affected people in this area, the general reaction from people is that they’re just deeply disappointed.

“They’re not surprised because they’re used to be treated like they’re so used to being seen as second best or being expected to take second best.”

McGettrick said that AAI are writing to people to say to people to say that they will have to avail of an extra 60 days provided for through legislation. 

Meanwhile, Tusla has told some people that it needs an extra 60 days to process their information, but in other cases, information may be provided by late December. 

Information and Tracing Act

The Birth Information and Tracing Act, which was signed into law earlier this year, provides a full and clear right of access to information for people who have questions about their origins.

It also enables people to access this information where their parent has died, and for access by the next of kin of a child who died in an institution.

Under previous legislation, adopted people were not entitled to their birth certificate or to information about their families of origin.

Under the new law, even if a biological parent says they don’t want their child to get their birth cert or related information, the adopted person will still get access.

The Act also introduced a range of new measures to support people affected by illegal birth registration, including free counselling.

Information requests can be made to the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) and Tusla through the bespoke website BirthInfo.ie. All information falling within the categories of information defined in the Act must be released, without exception, where it exists.

With reporting by Órla Ryan

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