Plan for adoption tracing ‘a half-measure’, says US Senator

Democrat speaks after meeting woman whose search for son was depicted in film Philomena

Philomena Lee  and Senator Claire McCaskill  meet to discuss the  new adoption initiative.

Philomena Lee and Senator Claire McCaskill meet to discuss the new adoption initiative.

Fri, Jan 31, 2014, 01:07

US senator Claire McCaskill has added her support to a campaign to help Irish mothers reunite with US children separated by forced adoption, describing the Government’s proposed legislation on the issue as “a half-measure” .

The Democrat from Missouri was speaking in her Senate offices after meeting Philomena Lee, whose search for her son 50 years after his adoption was depicted in the Oscar-nominated film Philomena.

Ms Lee travelled to Washington DC as part of her Philomena Project campaign to urge Congress to press the Government to pass a law releasing more than 60,000 adoption files.

“The Irish Government has not been as aggressive on this front as we would like,” Ms McCaskill said. “They have not done what they need to do in terms of making this an easy process.”

Forced adoption
Ms Lee’s son Anthony was born in Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, in 1952. Three years later she was forced to give him up for adoption to an American couple. Her son was raised in Missouri before he moved to Washington DC and became a White House lawyer under presidents Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush.

Mother and son searched for each other but the nuns would not release information on their identities. Ms Lee only discovered her son’s name several years after his death from Aids in 1995 at the age of 43. “He died thinking that I had abandoned him,” Ms Lee told reporters.

Ms McCaskill said the new legislation must address this “injustice”. She said she would consult fellow senators on how best to influence the Irish legislation.

Mari Steed of the Adoption Rights Alliance said attempts to reconnect mothers and adopted children had become a “deny till they die” process because records were still being withheld.