Adoption and an emerging scandal

 

Sir, – Here we are, yet again, looking at another scandal concerning adoption – one about which many people and successive governments have known for decades.

Babies were sold to American couples and other wealthy people; sold at home in Ireland also. Records kept in the bowels of the Department of Foreign Affairs were spoken about by Dick Spring when he was minister of that department. He promised the release of these records decades ago; it was never done.

This issue is no secret. But maybe now is the time when younger people, elected representatives, born after these scandals occurred, may be prepared to help us lift the lid on our awfully painful past.

Behind all the illegally adopted people there were birth mothers who had their babies stolen from them – without permission, and taken behind their backs. The percentage of permission given by mothers, if at all, was so small as to be almost non-existent. These mothers had no choice in this. There was no way, during a certain period of Ireland’s history, that one could leave a mother and baby home with one’s baby, whether one wanted to or not.

I was one of those mothers who, at 16 years of age, spent six months, in 1965, in such a home. I was a private patient paid for by my uncle and therefore didn’t have to spend years there. My baby disappeared one day, never to be seen by me again, nor his birth recorded – to my knowledge. I have no record of my having being there – despite having requested this information – presumably because money changed hands. I have been searching every avenue for 25 years, including American adoptions. I have been told that my baby could have been given to a couple “down the lane” or “anywhere in the town” – in this country or another country.

Imagine having no record to verify that you were in a mother and baby home! The only proof I have is that one of the girls and mothers died suddenly in March that year. The authorities have confirmed that death, which I remembered. So it would appear that I was never there; no record of my presence or of the existence of my baby; only the death of an unfortunate woman to prove any of this.

And so, in 2018, I and other birth-mothers of that era are still searching, bearing the pain of our loss every day and wondering why our children have never come looking for us so that we could be reunited. Can we dare to hope for resolution now? – Yours, etc,

ANNE HENNESSY,

Kilkenny.

Sir, – In 1970 I tried to adopt my own son (let’s call him Paul). When my girlfriend (let’s call her Jane) became pregnant her father refused to let us get married and insisted the baby would be adopted once he was born. The registration of the birth was done without my knowledge. I tried to persuade Jane to change her mind and keep the baby. While she considered her options, my son was cared for by my sister who lived on the same side of the city as my girlfriend. After 10 weeks of deliberation, Jane decided that she would give up the baby to adoption. I was distraught and attempted to adopt Paul with the support of my sister and parents.

I met a very nice man in the adoption agency office in Dublin City centre. The fact that he was a priest was and is irrelevant. I said that I wanted to adopt Paul and explained the supports that I had from home.

He said something that has resonated with me ever since. He simply said, “Mr Brady, you have no rights”. I said that the as the biological father of the child, as acknowledged by his mother Jane, I had to have rights. He again said, “I’m sorry Mr Brady; in this regard you have no rights”.

I understood the words and the concept being expressed but couldn’t comprehend that my country, my society and my church (at that time) could dismiss my best efforts to take responsibility for my actions and give my child a chance to grow within his natural family.

When Paul was taken from my sister’s house by the social worker something broke inside me and, 40 years later, I still don’t know if it has ever fully healed.

Through a strange and fortuitous series of events Paul and I were reunited when he reached adulthood 22 years later. I’m one of the lucky ones. Through the years I have met many well-meaning fathers who will never have that opportunity and are broken because of it. – Yours, etc,

PATRICK S BRADY,

Newbridge,

Co Kildare.

Sir, – Why has it taken so long for this to be addressed officially? Such baby trafficking has been known about for decades. – Yours, etc,

MICHELE SAVAGE,

Dublin 12.