Almost 900 people have applied to the new Contact Preference Register since the Birth Information and Tracing Act was signed into law last month, the Adoption Authority of Ireland has said.

The landmark legislation, which was enacted on 1 July, enables adopted people, those who were boarded out, anyone who had their birth illegally registered and people who have questions regarding their origins to access their information.

The new law also allows applications to be made to the Contact Preference Register by those wishing to make contact, to request privacy, or to seek or share information with a relative.

Of the 891 people who applied to register a contact preference, 32 people (24 adoptees and eight relatives) expressed a desire for no contact.

There were 820 people who expressed a preference for contact at some level.

The authority said 39 applicants (30 adoptees and nine relatives) did not want contact but were willing to share information.

There have been 786 applications from adoptees, 90 from birth parents, and 15 from other relatives.

The act provides that the Contact Preference Register must be open for a minimum period of three months before applications for birth certificate and related birth information will be accepted.

In early October 2022, both information and tracing services under the legislation will open.

The Adoption Authority said the majority of applications came from Ireland, with 105 applications from those who live overseas

Applications for these services can be made to the Adoption Authority of Ireland and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

If a mother or father wishes to register a contact preference, they are invited to do so before the information service opens for applications in October, according to the Adoption Authority.

When records are released, only contact preferences recorded on the register at that point in time can be released. However, contact preferences can still be registered after that date.

"We are very encouraged by the number of people who have registered on the Contact Preference Register," Patricia Carey, CEO of the Adoption Authority, said.

"These are mostly adoptees – but also birth parents and other relatives – for whom the Birth Information and Tracing Act is a really important piece of legislation.

"If they have applied to the Contact Preference Register, the Adoption Authority will also be able to facilitate contact between adoptees and birth parents and other relatives, at a level with which both parties are comfortable."

As part of a public information campaign around the Birth Information and Tracing Act, a booklet on the services provided under the new law is being delivered to every household in Ireland.

Ms Carey said: "The 1.85 million booklets landing on doorsteps throughout the country explain what the new legislation means and how this works. I would urge anyone impacted by the legislation to read and consider the information it contains, and perhaps talk to a trusted friend, before deciding what they want to do."

The oldest applicant was 81, while the youngest, aged five,
had an application submitted by their adoptive parents

The Adoption Authority said the majority of applications, 786, came from people in Ireland, with 105 applications from those who live overseas.

The greatest number of applications from outside Ireland came from the UK, with 50 people registering contact preferences. Next was the US with 17 applications, followed by Australia with four.

The county in Ireland with the most applications in July was Dublin, with 253 people registering preferences, followed by Cork with 118 applications, and Meath with 48. The county with the fewest applications was Leitrim, with four.

The oldest applicant was 81, while the youngest, aged five, had an application submitted by their adoptive parents.

Of the 786 adoptees who applied to the Contact Preference Register, 74% are seeking contact with their birth mother.

Almost 17% stated they wanted to trace their birth father, with 9% seeking contact with a sibling, and just ten people are seeking contact with a grandparent, cousin, aunt, or uncle.

Of the 105 relatives who applied, 86% are seeking contact with their child, just under 5% wish to contact siblings, and almost 10% are seeking contact with a grandparent, cousin, aunt, or uncle.

"Most families in Ireland have been touched by adoption at some stage," Ms Carey said.

"The Adoption Authority is determined to reach as many people as possible, to let them know they can find out about their origins and to encourage all those eligible under the legislation to register their preferences on the Contact Preference Register."

A designated website has also been established for people seeking to make an application under the Act or seeking further information.