Tusla - Ireland's Child & Family Agency

Outcomes of Tracing

Tracing enquiries can have a number of possible outcomes.  One outcome can be that the natural parent or adopted person being traced is found and is willing to have some form of contact. Contact can begin with information, letters, or photos being shared through a third party. Contact can then proceed at a level and a pace that both of you are happy with.

It is also important to prepare carefully for a meeting and to consult with the intermediary facilitating the meeting.  After contact has been made, there may still be issues that you may wish to consider. An adopted person may feel uncomfortable telling their adoptive parents about the contact. The natural parents may have married after the adoption. A natural mother’s husband and family may not know of the adopted person’s existence. A natural mother may have difficulty discussing the circumstances of the birth or her relationship with the natural father. A person may have difficulty in reconciling the real person with the image of the person they have built up over the years of separation.  These are all issues that need to be approached with a great deal of sensitivity by all parties involved in the process.

Unfortunately, in some cases it may not be possible to locate the person you are seeking. This may be because the information on that person may be inaccurate or out of date. The person may have emigrated. Approaching other family members who may have been unaware of the adopted persons’ birth may also be difficult.

In other cases, the natural mother or adopted person, when contacted, may be unable or unwilling to accept contact.  Again, there can be a variety of reasons for this decision. In the case of a natural mother, she may never have told anyone else about the pregnancy and birth and may fear the reaction or her husband, partner or family. She may also not be in a position to receive letters, accept telephone calls, or travel to a meeting without their knowledge. Some natural mothers found the experience of pregnancy and adoption so traumatic that they blocked it out of their minds for many years and find it too painful to deal with at a later stage.  Some adopted people may have no wish to learn about their natural family and may resent any enquiry from a natural parent or family member.

There will also be cases where a natural parent or perhaps an adopted person will have died in the intervening years since the adoption. In such cases, it may be possible to meet with other family members, obtain photographs of the deceased, or visit their grave. The Agency or Child and Family Agency will, if possible, approach the family to see if such contact is possible.  Again, the Adoption Authority of Ireland, Adoption Agencies, Child and Family Agency and Support Groups can be helpful in such circumstances.

All parties can be assured that their privacy will be respected. Phone calls and letters can be exchanged via third parties and meetings can be arranged on neutral ground.

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