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26th April 2010 

Minister Barry Andrews, T.D.
Minister for Children
Hawkins House
Dublin 2

Dear Minister Andrews,

Today is my 37th birthday.  As I am an adopted person, my birthday holds particular significance and this is why I have chosen today to write you this open letter.

I didn’t spend my birthday relaxing or enjoying myself; rather I spent the day cleaning up the mess left behind by the closed secret system imposed by the 1952 Adoption Act – the same system that you are upholding by not legislating for adopted people’s rights.  I answered emails and letters.  I spoke to an adopted person who has a dire need for medical information that is being denied to her by an incompetent social worker.  The adopted person was relieved to have found help at last after enduring 16 years under a callous, unsympathetic system.  I also had two hour long phone calls with natural mothers who were overwhelmed yet overjoyed at hearing a non-judgemental tone on the other end of the phone since they were chewed up and spat out by an uncaring Ireland.  One of these natural mothers has spent the last 40 years in the UK in self imposed exile.

It’s not my mess, but I’m cleaning it up.

I am a grown woman with a happy life who has reunited with my natural family.  Yet, under the current system I am made to feel like a child, a second-class citizen and a criminal, though I have not broken any laws.

Allow me to cut through the legalese that you are so fond of.  I do not want to know about the complexities of adoption, the balancing of rights, what Supreme Court judgement said what.  All I know is that over 42,000 adopted people, including myself, are treated differently to the rest of Irish society.  We were not given a say-so or choice as infants and yet adoption is supposed to be in the best interests of the child. Now that we are adults you treat us as children, but give us no rights and tip the balance in favour of everyone else but us.

You say you intend to legislate for tracing and information but I don’t believe you.  I have heard these promises before and Fianna Fáil has cried wolf one time too many.

Before the night is out I will have answered more emails, there are more phone calls waiting to be answered and there is information to be posted out to people who are denied openness and transparency.  Isn’t it ironic Minister, that this adopted person didn’t have a relaxing birthday because of the failings of your so –called “effective” system.

Yours sincerely, 

Claire McGettrick

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“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning . . . and the most disquieting loneliness." 

Alex Haley, Author of Roots 





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