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Forcibly adopted women demand files

Irish Independent, 4th October 2012

Two women who lived for years not knowing they had been forcibly adopted have called for official State records to be opened to try and trace their birth mothers.

Theresa Tinggal, 58, and Maria Dumbell, 42, are among tens of thousands of people sent for adoption around the 1950s after their mothers were deemed too young or unfit.

"I was handed over to my adoptive parents at two-days-old and then registered as their legal child," Ms Tinggal said. "It came as a great shock therefore when I discovered that I wasn't who I thought I was."

The Government has delayed until next year, plans for new adoption legislation which would allow people access to files to trace biological parents.

The women claim the Health Service Executive (HSE) has told them they cannot release files linked to informal adoptions.

Ms Tinggal was brought up as Theresa Hiney. The nurse who helped deliver her kept records of her own and a box with 1,000 names, including her name, has been recovered by her relatives. "The state could have found my birth mother but they didn't really bother," she said.

A website - adoptedillegally-ireland.com - has been set up to try and bring together people affected by adoptions authorised by hospitals, churches, religious orders and doctors after judging a mother unfit.

Ms Dumbell found out she was adopted when she applied for a passport. She discovered her birth was never registered and she only got an Irish passport after threatening a human rights lawsuit in Europe. "The attitude of the Irish Government when I asked them for information was 'Well, things were done illegally then and we don't know who you are'," she said.

Clare Daly TD, who supports the women's cause, said the records exist. She added: "It is not good enough to talk about guaranteeing children's rights in a new referendum if we continue to ignore children failed in the past. The right to identity is the most basic human right."

A spokeswoman for the Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she had no difficulty in meeting the women. She said they had been urged to discuss their cases with the national specialist for adoption in the HSE before she would meet them. The minister has also been pursuing the new legislation with the Attorney General's office.

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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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