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Irish Times Letters, 19th April 2010

Madam, – I, too, am one of the 42,000 adopted Irish children in this State (Joan Reidy, April 16th). I was born in 1966 in St Patrick’s Nursing Home, Navan Road, Dublin.

Having initiated my own search for my birth mother last year, what I am uncovering has astounded and shocked me to the core. What these poor unfortunate girls and women were put through at the hands of the Catholic Church and the State is truly unforgiveable. It seems that the State and the church collaborated together, one could not exist without the support and backing of the other; and society, through the power of church, allowed the abuse, humiliation and punishment to go on. These girls and women had done nothing wrong other than fall pregnant. Not a shock today, of course, because society is not told what to think and how to act any more.

The HSE says its hands are tied, that under the 1952 Adoption Act (only brought in as a result of the babies-to-America scandal, but more importantly which was passed after Archbishop McQuaid gave his agreement to its wording), it cannot disclose identifying information to the child should he or she come looking for his or her mother. The Catholic Church felt at the time (and still does) that a full and final separation is best for all parties and that at no stage should either party ever meet each other.

Coming from a church that does not allow its priests or nuns to marry only they can understand their reason and logic in this practice. It is only when you have had children and become a parent do you fully understand the need to know they are, at the very least, safe, healthy and happy.

It appears the State takes the “pick and mix” attitude towards which laws and rights it recognises. It clearly and consistently discriminates against adopted people purely because they are adopted. If any other group of people were denied access to their files there would be a public outcry. It is an Irish solution to an Irish problem: keep them quiet and they will go away. Thankfully, society’s views are changing and for the better. It is now okay to question the Catholic Church, to go against them, to stand up to them and tell them that what they did was wrong.

Until you find all the pieces you cannot truly find peace. This is my life now. I am not at peace and won’t be until I know that I matter. It seems that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 8.1 applies for other nationalities but our own Government refuses to acknowledge and comply with it. Where was its duty of care to me, the child, when I was born? It was supposed to be my voice, my protector, my guardian. It has failed me and the thousands of others out there just like me. – Yours, etc,


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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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