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Get help with tracing early life records




Information about time a person spent as a child in a mother and baby or county institution provides an important link to the past. When records are accessible, it gives applicants more certainty about aspects of their life that many take for granted. 


Until relatively recently, many requests for information from former residents were blocked by the institutions that they had resided in. This, combined with the stigma mothers and families often felt about their circumstances, made it difficult for many former residents to learn about their past.  


However, in June 2022, the Irish Government passed new legislation to make some of this information more accessible. The Birth Information and Tracing Act gives adopted people, people who were boarded out, those who were born in a Mother and Baby or County Home, or people whose births were illegally registered greater access to their records. 


A central part of Fréa’s work through Renewing Roots is to support former residents of Mother and Baby and County Institutions to submit applications for their Early Life Records. We can advise you on the most appropriate body to make an application to, support you in submitting an application and continue to offer advice and assistance if the relevant body cannot trace records.  


If you would like to contact to have a conversation about making an application, please contact: 


Why make an application for records? 

Having basic information about your background is something that many people take for granted. Often, we can ask a mother, father or relative about our early life. It gives us a sense of identity and of knowing who we are.  


But what if that information is hidden or unavailable? What if your birth was illegally registered so that your birth certificate doesn’t even show your birth mother’s name? This is the experience of people who went through the mother and baby and county institution system as children. 


People who spent time as children in Mother and Baby or County institutions state that previous attempts to obtain records from these institutions were blocked or met with a wall of silence. This, in addition to uncertainty about their background, added to the distress experienced of living in the homes.  


The Birth Tracing and Information Act is aimed to counter this, as well as helping former residents access other information about their background.  


What information can I access? 


Information that can be released includes:  


Birth Information, Early Life Information, Medical information*, Provided items, Incorrect birth registration information (a full list of information is available below). However, in some cases, the Government bodies may have little, or no, information on the applicant. 


*Medical information relating to a genetic relative is released through the applicant’s GP – the information released will only relate to genetic or hereditary conditions. 


Who can make an application? 


The Birth Tracing and Information Act states that a ‘relevant person as being able to make an application for Early Life Records.’  


a) an adopted person   

b) a person who is, or suspects they are, the subject of an illegal birth registration  

c) a person who was nursed out or boarded out or suspects they may have been nursed out or boarded out   

d) a person who does not fall into any of the above categories but who resided as a child in an institution (please see here for a list of these institutions  Mother and Baby Homes | FRÉA (frea.org.uk)  

 

In addition to this the following people can make an application through the Act;  


  • The child of a ‘relevant person’ – if the relevant person and their parents are deceased 

  • Next of Kin of a relevant person – where the relevant person died as a child in an institution. There are strict rules around who can be define as the Next of Kin of a relevant person. Please contact staff at Fréa and we can help with clarification on this. 

 

Where do I make an application: 

 

Applications are made through the ‘relevant body’ - this usually means either Tusla or the Adoption Authority of Ireland.  


If you would like to make a paper application, you can do this by calling 01 2309 300 (option 1) to ask us to post you a copy of the BITA Application Form 

 

 

For both applications, you will need to be able to prove your identity by either uploading photographic identification to your online application or by sending this along with any paper application forms. 

 

Timescale 

 

Any information held on an applicant should be returned within a calendar month of making an application. If no records can be traced the applicant should be informed of this within one month of the application being received. 

 

In more complex cases, the search for records may take longer. In these cases, the applicant should be informed of any delay within one month, including information stating that their case should be resolved within three months. The case should then be resolved within three months.  

 

Full list of information that may be accessed through the Birth Information and Tracing Act:  


Birth Information is:  


• Forename(s) and surname of child; Sex of child;   

• Date and place of birth; Time of birth.   

• Forename(s), surname, birth surname, address and occupation of mother; Former  

surname(s) (if any) of mother; Date of birth of mother; Marital status of mother; Birth  

surname of mother's mother.   

• Forename(s), surname, birth surname, address and occupation of father; Former  

surname(s) (if any) of father; Date of birth of father; Marital status of father; Birth surname  

of father's mother.   

• Forename(s), surname, qualification, address and signature of informant.   

• Date of registration and signature of registrar.   


Early life Information includes:   

• Where he or she lived, and for what dates.   

• Where applicable, the date and place of his or her baptism or any other similar religious  

or spiritual ceremony performed in respect of him or her.   

• A baptismal certificate   

• An entry in a baptismal register  

• His or her birth weight.   

• Information on his or her health, physical or emotional development.    

• Information on any medical treatments, procedures or vaccinations.   

• Information on how long his or her mother remained with him or her in the same place of residence.   

• Information on whether the person and his or her mother left their first place of  

residence (e.g. Mother and Baby Home Institution) separately or together.   

• Information on visits or communications by birth relatives.   

• Information on whether the person has a birth relative, whether living or deceased and,  in the case of a birth sibling, the sex of that birth sibling and whether they are older or younger.   

The name of anyone who made arrangements for his or her adoption.  


Care information includes:    


• The name of a person who cared for the relevant person as part of a care arrangement.  


This means:  


o the name of a person in charge of an institution or part of an institution   

o the name of a person to whom a person was boarded out or nursed out  

o the name of foster care parents  

• The location where that care was provided,    

• The duration for which the person was cared for at a given location or by a given person,   

• The person or entity that caused the care arrangement to be established,   

• The name of any person who made arrangements for the relevant person to be nursed out or boarded out.  


Medical information includes:  


• Information relating to a relevant person’s medical history  

• The medical history of his or her relevant parent or genetic relative, only in the cases of a genetic or heredity medical condition which is relevant for the maintenance of the relevant person’s health.   


Provided item includes:  


Any item held by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, the Adoption Authority or another relevant body which was provided by a relevant parent, carer or other family member for the purpose of  being made available to the relevant person on request.  It could have been provided historically or could be an item which was lodged through the statutory Contact Preference Register. The item could be a:  

 

o  letter;  

o photograph;   

o memento; or   

o other document or object.    


Incorrect birth registration information means, in relation to a person who is or has been  the subject of an incorrect birth registration—  


• the circumstances under which the person became the subject of an incorrect birth  registration  

• the name of the person who made arrangements for the incorrect birth registration 


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If you would like to contact to have a conversation about making an application, a reminder of our contact details:


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