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Searching for true identity 

Irish Times Letters, Irish Times Fri, Apr 16, 2010 

Madam, – I was one of those babies “given up” for adoption (April 12th) and I believe it must have been a heart-rending event from which the mothers never fully recovered. I salute the mothers, the “lucky” ones who got away to England and those who spent a lifetime in the Magdalene laundries.


When I tried to find her the agency did not help. Eventually I found her family and was welcomed by them, but I never met her since we parted over 57 years ago. So I know half of who I am. I want to know the rest. Who am I?


All this secrecy is denying me my human right to know my genetic origins, my identity. The laws of Ireland do not allow me to know what is on my file, although this right has been in place, for over-18s in the UK and Wales since 1975 and in Scotland since 1930. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 8.1 states: “States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognised by law without unlawful interference”.


Who is my father? For a while I thought I had found him, I even saw his death notice in your paper, Madam, but his relatives tell me I’m wrong, the ages and other details don’t match.


So I went back to the agency 27 years after the first attempt – Barnardos told me “things have changed” – but they haven’t. The nun didn’t even bring the file into the room, in case I’d try to snatch it and run out the door. “Only the mother can tell you who the father was”.


Well, she is dead, so what do I do now? I’m sick of it – I just want to know what corner of Ireland I’m from, and have a little bit of history to pass to my son, and maybe a photograph, because my father is probably dead anyway. It’s time to open up the files under Freedom of Information legislation. –


Yours, etc,



Margaret Road,


Co Dublin.

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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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