Reunion and Information Register (RIR)
The purpose of the Reunion and Information Register (RIR) - previously known as the Adopted Person's Contact Register - is to assist people who have been separated by an adoption to make contact with one another or exchange messages.
So far more than 30,000 people have joined and we have reunited more than 6,000 people.
The Adopted Persons Contact Register (APCR) was first established in 1976. Its name was changed to the Reunion and Information Register (RIR) in 1990. Currently the RIR is managed by the Adoption Information Unit (AIU) of the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ).
Joining the Reunion and Information Register
Those with direct entitlement
Under the Adoption Act 2000 the following people have a direct entitlement to join the RIR:
- birth parent
- adopted parent
- adopted person over 18
- adopted person over 12 who has the written consent of their adoptive parents or the Secretary of DCJ (Secretary)
- adopted person over 16 who is living separately and apart from their adoptive parents
- adopted person under 18 whose adoptive parents are deceased, cannot be found or in the opinion of the Secretary, the adoptive parents are incapable of giving consent
- another person who has an interest in an adopted person, birth parent or adoptive parent (such as a brother, sister, grandparent, aunt, uncle, close friend) may request to have their name entered in the Register
How to apply
To apply to enter your name on the RIR download and complete the Application to Join the Reunion and Information Register.
Those without a direct entitlement
Interested parties, unlike an adopted person or birth parent, do not have a direct entitlement to join the RIR. Interested parties are people who have an interest in an adopted person, birth parent or adoptive parent. For example:
- a brother or sister – who may or may not have been adopted, was formerly under the care of the Minister or a care leaver
- grandparent, aunt, uncle, another relative
- significant person or close friend to an adoptee or a birth parent.
Interested parties may request to have their name entered on the RIR. Further information may be requested from you depending on the situation.
Approval by the Secretary is required before the name of the person ‘having an interest in the adopted person or birth parent’ may be entered on the RIR. The Secretary must be of the opinion that entering the name will promote the welfare and best interests of the adopted person.
How to apply
To apply to enter your name on the RIR download and complete section 3 of the Application to obtain adoption information form.
How the RIR works
When people who have been separated by adoption are searching for each other it can be very sensitive. Some adopted people may not know that they are adopted. Some birth parents may not have shared information about the adoption with other members of their family.
The RIR is a passive means of making contact with a person from whom you have been separated from through adoption. DCJ does not search for the person you may be looking for. The person must indicate their willingness to make contact by also joining the RIR.
When a person enters their name on the RIR they may chose to leave a message or information for another person affected by the same adoption. This message may be a letter, photograph or information about their own or their family's health and welfare.
Messages may be sealed or unsealed and will not be opened by Adoption Information Unit (AIU) except at your request or the request of the other person.
AIU can then pass this message on to the other person if the other person makes contact with AIU, even if that other person does not choose to enter their name in the RIR.
It is an offence to leave a message intended to intimidate, harass or threaten a person.
By entering your name on the RIR, if another person also registers in relation to the same adoption this will create a 'match' on the register. Once a match occurs on the Register, AIU must advise each person of the match as soon as possible by phone, email or a letter and discuss how each person would like the match to proceed.
Sometimes this may take a few days especially if the person who registered first on the RIR did so many years ago and our searches reveal that their address is no longer current.
AIU will endeavour to undertake all efforts to locate that person however it is the responsibility of the person registering to ensure they inform AIU of any change to their contact details. It is your responsibility to keep your registration up to date by advising in writing, any change of address or contact details.
If DCJ is unable to locate one person, as they have not advised a change of address, that person’s last known name and address may be released to the other person on the register. This will depend on the other person’s entitlement to receive information under the Act.
How to proceed
How the match proceeds is entirely up to the wishes of the two people concerned. A meeting may not be possible in every case. The feelings and wishes of each person directly involved are respected and all enquiries are treated in confidence.
People are encouraged to proceed slowly and to take time to consider the range of unknown factors involved in making contact with someone whose life you may not have shared for many years, if at all. It is not AIU's role to hinder any such contact.
Some people will choose to exchange contact details immediately whilst others may choose to have the assistance of a third party such as AIU – or another agency which arranged the adoption – to help mediate any contact.
Other adoption agencies and support services are also very willing to assist to mediate contact: Anglicare, Barnardos, CatholicCare, Benevolent Society's Post Adoption Resource Centre (PARC) and International Social Services.
Making an approach (outreach)
The Adoption Information Unit may be able to assist a person who has placed their name on the RIR to locate a person who they wish to be reunited with, even if that person has not already registered on the RIR. In these cases, each person’s situation is assessed individually. Decisions to offer outreach require the approval of the Secretary.
As of 1 July 2022 all fees have been removed, and DCJ will no longer be seeking fees for any adoption information application.