Social and medical information

Social and medical information is information ‘prescribed’ under the Adoption Act 2000. This data is held by FACS or other non-government agencies and is about the physical and intellectual attributes, educational and vocational qualifications, social and cultural background, health and welfare, family and other relationships, religious beliefs, hobbies and interests of a birth parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt or uncle of the adopted person, or his or her adoptive parents, that will give the adopted person or birth parent knowledge of each other.

The amount of social and medical information available varies, depending on when and how the adoption was arranged and the record-keeping practices at the time. Unfortunately FACS holds no files for adoptions that occurred prior to the mid 1950’s. Adoption files from the mid 1950s and early 1960s have limited details, whereas adoption files from the late 1960s onwards provide more information. However, if the adoption was arranged through a private solicitor or agency, there will be minimal information on the FACS adoption file.

Some adoption agencies still hold their own files. If the adoption was arranged through one of these agencies you will be given their contact details so you can apply to them for the information.

I am an adopted person. What information can I get?

Social and medical information available for an adopted person is information that was provided by their birth parent(s) or other family members at the time of the adoption. The file may include information about the birth mother only or sometimes there is information about the birth father and / or other members of the birth family.

You will receive copies of the forms containing this information that were completed at the time of the adoption, copies of any medical forms completed in relation to yourself and copies of documents relating to the adoption signed by your birth parent(s), if available. In most cases identifying information about your birth father is not released (see section on birth fathers).

The only way to gain current information about your birth parent(s) is to locate them.

If the Adoption Information Unit locates records of any birth siblings who were also adopted, your social and medical information will include the identifying details of those siblings.

I am a birth parent. What information can I get?

Birth parents will receive a copy of the information they provided at the time of the adoption and documents they signed, as well as information about the child’s adoptive family if this information is on file.

If the adoption was organised through FACS you will receive the same information and documents that an adopted person receives as well as any significant information available about your child to provide knowledge of their life after adoption. This includes general information about your child’s adoptive parents: physical description, occupations, nationalities, hobbies and interests, religion in which the child was to be raised and whether or not there were any other children in the family at the time of the adoption.

If the adoption was organised through a solicitor or a private agency you will receive the details of the solicitor or the agency (if known) so that you can contact them directly for more information.

I am an adoptive parent. What information can I get?

Identifying information about the adopted person’s birth family cannot be released to you without the adopted person’s written consent. Adoptive parents are entitled to receive copies of adoption documents they signed at the time. You will need to speak with a caseworker from the Adoption Information Unit if you wish to request any other information from the adoption file.

I was in the care of the Minister (previously known as a ward of the state) before my adoption. What information can I get?

If you were in the care of the Minister, you are entitled to access information about yourself from the FACS file(s) about your time in care. This file may help to provide you with an understanding of why you were unable to remain with your family and events that happened at that time, possibly some events that you may not be aware of or may have forgotten. Often people who read the records about their time in care gain a clearer understanding of their personal history.

You will be sent an application form to access the information about yourself available in the file about your time in care. If you are not sure if you were in the care of the Minister before your adoption, your social and medical information will confirm this.

To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (24 hours/7 days)