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GP ‘had scores of children illegally adopted': Lack of paper trail has left the adoptees unable to find their mothers
Dr Irene Creedon took in babies from vulnerable mothers at her surgery
She allowed adoptive parents to register children as their own
Operations uncovered by mother-of-two when she began tracing her birth
By ALISON O'REILLY
Mail on Sunday, 6 January 2013
Secret: Monaghan GP Dr Irene Creedon arranged secret adoptions at her surgery by taking children off vulnerable mothers and allowing adoptive parents to register the children
A well-known family doctor arranged scores of illicit and illegal adoptions across the nation over at least two decades, the Irish Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Dr Irene Creedon, of Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, took in a string of babies from vulnerable mothers, gave their place of birth as her surgery and then allowed adoptive parents to register the babies as their own biological children.
Dr Creedon’s family have confirmed that the late GP arranged secret adoptions but insisted she was a ‘heroine’ whose only desire was to help others.
However, by going outside State services and allowing couples to falsely register babies, Dr Creedon was knowingly breaking the law. And a number of people adopted in this way are outraged that they now have no way of discovering who their birth parents really are.
Dr Creedon herself died 10 years ago and no records appear to be available that would allow them to trace their true biological parents.
The extent of Dr Creedon’s illicit adoptions was uncovered by Longford-based mother-of-two Margaret Norton, who last year began trying to trace her birth mother following the death of her adoptive parents.
Mrs Norton had discovered that, as a baby, she had been handed to her adoptive mother and father in a Co. Louth hotel car park and was registered as their biological child.
The only clue was that her place of birth is registered as 31 O’Neill Street, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan – Dr Creedon’s surgery.
After posting her details online and telling an anonymised version of her story on Ryan Tubridy’s radio show, she was contacted by a string of others with the same story – many of whom were also registered as being born at the O’Neill Street surgery.
Several of those who contacted Mrs Norton said that their adoptions had, according to their own families, been arranged by Dr Creedon.
The MoS verified this account with two of the babies who had, on the face of their birth registration documents, been illegally adopted.
And the late GP’s actions were last night confirmed by her own daughter, Marie McDermott.
Ms McDermott said she was not certain how many adoptions her mother had organised but praised her mother’s efforts to help childless families and single mothers in distress simultaneously.
Discovery: The extent of Dr Creedon's illicit adoptions was uncovered by mother-of-two Margaret Norton, who handed to her adoptive mother and father in a Co. Louth hotel car park and was registered as their biological child
‘She helped a lot of people,’ Ms McDermott said. ‘They were different times and a different era. People came to her when they needed help, whether it was to give up a child or to adopt a child.
‘My mother was a wonderful person, a heroine, she was an extraordinary woman.’
Asked about the fact that the births were registered illegally, Ms McDermott said: ‘Paperwork wasn’t something they were strict about back then; that’s changed for the better. Some people don’t want to be found but I do understand that people have a right to know who they are. Lots of girls had babies who were hidden or given away back then. It was very sad and people were ashamed. Mammy helped a lot of those people.’
She rejected suggestions that her mother received money for arranging the adoptions, saying: ‘The things she did to help people was unreal: she helped people who were elderly and hungry as well as people who could not have children and were not allowed to have children. She did not ask for money; it was not about money, she had her own. Sometimes she came home with a bag if potatoes or turnips as a gift.’
But Mrs Norton said: ‘I’m angry that this went on when it shouldn’t have. It was completely wrong.
‘I have absolutely no idea who my birth parents are and there is no way of me finding out without them coming forward or passing me some information. There is simply no trace of my past and every door has been closed in my face.’
How one GP's string of illegal adoptions were uncovered by a Longford mother
Growing up, Margaret Norton always knew she was adopted by the Brown family.
Her adoptive parents told her from an early age that she was not their biological child, but Margaret had a happy upbringing with her older sister in Blanchardstown, north west Dublin.
She had very little reason to question the circumstances of her adoption, having been simply told that she was born in 1972, and adopted a few days later.
‘The things Mam did tell me were that I was three days old when she got me and I came with clothes. That’s all I know,’ said the 40-year-old. ‘I believe my adoptive mother didn’t have a clue about my past, or else she was told, “Don’t ever repeat this.”’
The first inkling Margaret had that her adoption was not routine, however, came when she considered moving abroad in her twenties. Looking at her birth certificate, something struck her as odd: her adoptive parents were listed as her actual birth parents.
‘It was strange because it did not say adoption certificate, it said birth certificate,’ Margaret said. ‘I got a copy of the register and my dad had signed it but not my mother, so I asked him about it.
‘My relationship with Dad was also good when I was younger, but it got a bit strained in the latter years. I asked him a lot of questions and he said he didn’t remember.
‘I did ask him why he registered me as his child and he said he couldn’t remember – but it is definitely his signature. There was no paperwork anywhere that I could find. Dad thought he had a file but I never found it.
‘He wouldn’t tell me, I think he had some of the information, but Mammy didn’t. His signature appears on the register, but Mammy’s doesn’t.’
According to the certificate, Margaret was born on March 28, 1972, at 31 O’Neill Street, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan. The address was the site of a doctor’s surgery run by Dr Irene Creedon, a well-known local GP who has since died.
But as Margaret researched the circumstances of her birth, the adoption began to look stranger and stranger.
‘I never would have known I was adopted if my adoptive parents hadn’t told me,’ Margaret said. ‘They were 44 years old and had just one child, so they obviously really wanted me.
‘But by my birth cert it looks as if nothing ever happened. There was three months between me being born and being registered. In the years that followed I went to look at the registry and my dad signed it, it was his handwriting… but my mother didn’t sign it.
Match: According to her birth certificate, Margaret was born on March 28, 1972, at 31 O'Neill Street, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan. The address was the site of a doctor's surgery run by Dr Irene Creedon
‘I remember thinking, “This is not an adoptive cert, this is a birth cert. Surely you had to produce something from the doctor or hospital to say you had this child?”’
After Margaret married and had two children, her desire to solve the mystery surrounding her adoption grew.
‘I was very well brought up. My mother was very affectionate and we got on very well. I was always comfortable at home and even as a teenager I didn’t have an interest in looking for my birth family,’ she said. ‘It was only when I first fell pregnant 14 years ago that I began to wonder. People used to say, “Your son is the image of you,” so I used to think, “But who do I look like?”’
‘Mam developed Alzheimer’s around 10 years ago so it became much harder to find out more about my past. Even for health reasons alone it became more important to me to know who I am, to know about my identity.’
But the only details she had about her adoption were sketchy.
‘The story I know is that my adoptive mother and father picked me up three days after I was born from a hotel car park on the outskirts of Dundalk or Drogheda – we don’t know which one. That’s all I know. I’ve written and called to people I thought might be able to point me in the right direction, but there is no paperwork anywhere that we know of or can access,’ she said.
'MY ADOPTION WAS ILLEGAL FOR SURE'
A man in his late 40s has revealed that he, too, believes Dr Irene Creedon illegally arranged his adoption.
John, whose name has been changed to protect his anonymity, was born hundreds of miles away from Carrickmacross but then collected by an intermediary and brought to Co. Monaghan, where Dr Creedon was the family GP to his adoptive parents, he said.
Although Dr Creedon’s surgery was not registered as John’s place of birth on his birth certificate – in contrast to the case of Margaret Norton – his adoptive parents were listed as his biological parents on his birth cert.
John has always known he was adopted – he was told as a child. However, he only began actively searching for his birth mother in his 20s.
He succeeded in tracking down the woman who had collected him from his birthplace, who confirmed that Dr Creedon had arranged the adoption. Eventually he found his birth mother and she – along with his adoptive parents – also told John that Dr Creedon had organised the adoption.
‘Dr Creedon was the mastermind behind these adoptions, I believe,’ he said. ‘Unlike Margaret, I have more of my birth history available to me, but my adoption was illegal for sure and what happened was wrong.’
‘I was baptised 10 days after my birth. It was all done really quickly. There is no paperwork or anything. You could call for an investigation but there are no notes, so what do you do?
‘There are lots of unanswered questions. Did my birth mother even have me for those three days? Was I in the doctor’s surgery?’
Margaret said she requested files and other information from Dr Creedon’s archives, but has so far been unable to access any documents.
‘I have contacted Dr Creedon’s office to try to get the medical records, but I’m not able to access them, and even if I did, I doubt there is a record of my birth,’ she said. ‘She [Dr Creedon] is dead around 10 or 12 years so I can’t get any answers and no one around Carrickmacross has been able to help me with definite information. I have been told Dr Creedon was a very high-profile woman in the area who was renowned for getting things done.’
As Margaret raised her own two children and suffered the loss of her adoptive parents – who both died last year – her determination to find her birth parents strengthened. She posted her story, a picture and contact details on the Trace Missings Persons Ireland web page.
Little came of that, so in March 2012, she gave an anonymous interview to Ryan Tubridy on his 2fm radio show.
Curious: After Margaret married and had two children, her desire to solve the mystery surrounding her adoption grew
She mentioned her web postings – and was astonished when she was contacted by other people who said their adoptions were arranged under similar circumstances.
Within three days of doing that interview, my email and Facebook page were swamped with all sorts of shocking stories similar to mine,’ she said. ‘I’m angry that this went on when it shouldn’t have, it was completely wrong. Since I decided to speak openly about it, a lot of people have contacted me to say they were also given up for adoption, organised by Dr Creedon.
Margaret explained that her search had nothing to do with financial gain.
‘I have a nice life. So I just need to know who my birth mother is. Even if she was to contact me to say, “I am who I am and my family don’t know”, I understand. Even if I get a note in the door anonymously, that’s fine by me. I respect her privacy. I just want to know who I am.’
Margaret is certain that someone alive will be able help her to solve the secret of her identity.
‘Somebody knows something. Maybe my mother didn’t want to have a child young, or out of marriage. Maybe it’s something she wants to put in the distance, but even for health reasons alone I would like to know more.
‘I’ve heard so many stories of women giving children up and sometimes it was the parents’ choice and some people didn’t have the choice. If that’s the case I don’t want her to be going through the rest of her life wondering, “What ever happened to her?”’
‘My father thought he had a file and then there wasn’t one, he said he couldn’t remember what hotel I was picked up from. I never got any straight answers. I’ve looked as far as I can. Now I want to show my face [in] the hope I can be helped. I’m not angry my mother and father are not coming forward, I’m angry that this could happen.
‘I’m angry nobody felt the need to keep this bit of information. People are afraid, but I don’t know why.
‘There is simply no trace of my past written anywhere, and every door has been closed in my face since I began my search in 2011’.
MY BIRTH MOTHER WAS ONLY 15... SHE NEVER KNEW WHERE I WENT, AND NEVER ASKED
Jane – whose name was changed to protect her anonymity – always knew she was adopted, but she only began searching for her biological parents after it was discovered she had a heart defect.
‘Like most people who are adopted or fostered, I wanted to know about my natural parents – but it didn’t overwhelm me,’ Jane said. ‘I found when I was in hospital as a teenager that I had a heart defect. I remember the doctor saying, “What’s your health history like?” and my mum said, “We don’t know, she’s adopted – and we don’t have contact with her mother.”’
After learning about her medical condition, she began a search for her biological parents in earnest. She had been raised by a middle-class family who adopted her in their 40s; both of her adoptive parents’ names were listed on her birth certificate, and the place of her birth was listed as 31 O’Neill Street, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan – Dr Irene Creedon’s surgery.
Her adoptive mother had given birth to stillborn babies and couldn’t have more children; the family GP was Dr Creedon.
Jane, who lives in Co. Louth, had heard rumours about the identity of her birth mother and eventually tracked her down.
‘I heard whispers because my birth mother was seen pregnant and gave birth where people found out,’ she said. ‘I got her address and afterwards I took a mad notion one day and just knocked on her door and asked and she said yes. It turns out she and my dad didn’t have a heart defect, either.’
Her biological mother told her that she had become pregnant outside of marriage while still quite young, and that she kept the pregnancy secret from her family.
She had heard that Dr Creedon could help women in her situation, and she praised the GP for being so nice and keeping her secret.
‘I thought the only way to get information from her was to ask her out straight,’ Jane said. ‘She was only 15 and she said Dr Creedon was known for helping girls in trouble.
‘She was her doctor and she said you could trust her not to tell your mother you were in trouble. She went to her and gave me up when Dr Creedon said she found a good home for me.
‘She seemed a bit distracted or distant about it, but she’s a nice woman and I’d say she had to block it out to survive. She never knew where I went and never asked.
‘She said that was because she believed God was looking over me and I was in a good family.
‘I know who I am and my parents are my parents and I love them. My birth mother does regret the adoption but said it was for the right reasons. I’m okay with that, definitely, but my search should have been easier,’ Jane said.
‘My adoptive parents are on my birth certificate, but because my birth mother gave birth to me in a public-type situation people knew about it and were more willing to talk,’ she said.
‘My adoptive mother had a number of still births and I’m the only child. I had a good life too but I was adopted illegally and I was adopted through Dr Irene Creedon.
‘I know of more adults who went through the same thing. I think my adoptive parents trusted her and didn’t believe they were doing anything wrong, but in reality they were, even though they loved me,’ she said.
|“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
Alex Haley, Author of Roots