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Surge in calls to adoption helplines

By Conall O Fátharta

Irish Examiner, Wednesday, April 21, 2010

ADOPTION support groups have received a surge of calls to their helplines following the Irish Examiner’s special investigation into the issue of illegal adoption.

As part of the investigation we revealed the heartbreaking story of Tressa Reeves and her 50-year search for an illegally adopted son.

Chairwoman of Adoption Loss – The Natural Parents Network of Ireland, Bernie Harold, said the group’s helpline had been "extra busy" since the publication of the investigation.

"Most calls have been from women who were very reluctant to go back to the adoption agency through which their child was adopted because of the traumatic memories it evokes.

"They were glad to hear that they don’t have to – they can go to any agency of their choice. Those women were relieved to be able to talk about the loss of their child with someone else who’d been through the same experience."

Ms Harold also revealed how other calls were from adopted and fostered people who weren’t sure how to start their search.

The Adoption Rights Alliance, a group representing adopted people, also reported its website traffic and calls to its helpline had increased up to five times the dailyaverage following the publication of Tressa’s story.

Commenting on the increase in calls, Susan Lohan of the Adoption Rights Alliance, said Tressa’s case was similar to others the group had encountered.

"When the truth about their origins is inevitably revealed, they discover that they have little or no chance of tracing their natural mothers as their birth certificates were falsified and their real names were never recorded," she said.

Ms Lohan criticised the new Adoption Bill and once again called on Minister for Children Barry Andrews to implement legislation that will allow for tracing and information rights.

"Twenty-first century legislation is urgently required because there is nothing to stop illegal adoptions from happening today. Barry Andrews’ proposed Adoption Bill makes no changes to the core 1952 Act on domestic adoption. It doesn’t allow for adopted people to know they are adopted, just like Tressa’s son, and persists in a closed, secretive system damaging to all involved," she said.

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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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