The developments in DNA and the readily available “DIY kits” may lead to a new wave of litigation as legacy adoptions are investigated.
In Ireland a 71 year old woman and her “daughter” took a DNA test and discovered that the mother had been given the wrong baby back by a religious order over 50 years ago. It came to light following revelations that St Patricks Guild in Dublin had incorrectly registered over 100 births and the investigations into the organisation continue. As investigations proceed and more people take tests that number is likely to grow. It was as a result of the scandal that this lady and her “daughter” decided to take the DNA test.
The lady in this instance later found out that her biological daughter had remained in the care of the organisation until she was adopted. Whether the adoption was intentional to cover up the mistake or whether it was simply an error compounding another error will probably never be known.
While this incident arose from a particular scandal the prevalence of Home DNA kits may lead, not only to embarrassing family secrets, but also to realisations that adoption errors have been made in the past.
The potential psychological impact of these revelations on families many years after the event and the potential for claims of lost chances and lost lives is hard to estimate.
It is always prudent to know the contents of archives of records and to try and piece together as much of the past as possible. We encourage all organisations to be understand their history and the available records rather than waiting for an issue to arise and only then seeking to consider available information. IICSA and other inquiries have been critical of organisational failure to retain records. A good archiving policy knowing the available evidence and ensuring good current record keeping should be a priority.
Written by Ciara McReynolds at BLM