An adoption agency in Ireland which was found to have registered births illegally has gone into voluntary liquidation.

St Patrick’s Guild’s liquidation which was announced in December comes seven months after The Department of Children and Youth Affairs confirmed that the agency had been responsible for 126 births being illegally registered between 1946 and 1969. The liquidation raises questions over whether potential and pending legal claims against the agency will ever be settled.

The phenomenon, which goes hand in hand with illegal adoptions, is not just a historic one. Last year media outlet the Irish Examiner revealed documented cases of illegal adoptions and illegal birth registrations taking place in Ireland as recently as 2010. The newspaper also revealed that the Adoption Authority (AAI) had warned the department about the size of the problem on three separate occasions, first in 2011, then in 2013, and again in 2015.

The news of  the illegal birth registrations at St Patrick’s Guild led to Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone announcing a “scoping exercise”, to see whether the practice was widespread. The exercise, which began last year, involves the forensic examination of records.  The final report was due in October 2018, but has now been delayed until April, as the number of potential illegal adoption cases continues to rise. The Times reported in June that a further 140 cases of possible illegal adoptions were being investigated by Ireland’s Children’s Minister.

The department has declined to reveal details of the 150,000 records that have been examined in the review or the methodology used. The scoping exercise has also been criticised in Ireland for only focusing on illegal registrations instead of including all types of illegal adoption.

Families in Britain are also accusing  local authorities of registering births and adoptions illegally with documented cases seen by this site as recently as last year. A growing number of birth parents who have lost children to the care system are calling out adoption agencies who fail to record their child’s details properly on adoption certificates, and in some instances never going through with the adoption at all. Child rights campaigner Michele Simmons, who made a Freedom of Information request in 2017, is concerned that the errors are deliberate omissions made with a view to making children taken into state care untraceable.

Simmons would like policy around adoption certificates changed so that every agency and council is under a mandatory duty to provide parents with copies of adoption certificates as soon as they are produced.

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