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Most adopted people here face monumental brick wall

Irish Independent Letters, 16th March 2011

Mary Kenny's opinion piece (Irish Independent, March 14) portrays only one side of Ireland's closed secret adoption system.

We agree with Ms Kenny that Joan Burton is an inspirational person, and are proud to see an adopted person in Cabinet. However, we must vehemently disagree that her case is 'a shining example of good practice' in adoption.

The religious-run adoption society St Patrick's Guild could not help in searching for Joan Burton's natural family. Ten years later, Ms Burton received help from a voluntary organisation (the forerunner to Adoption Rights Alliance) and traced her natural family. In the time that had elapsed, however, her natural mother had died.

St Patrick's Guild secretly exported almost 600 babies to America (in fact, Joan Burton was originally destined for such an adoption) and it featured in RTE's 'Prime Time' in May 2010 because of its involvement in an illegal adoption.

It is also known that in the early days of this secret export scheme, architected by Archbishop John Charles McQuaid with a mandate for secrecy, that little to no vetting of prospective adoptive parents was done well into the late 1950s.

Ms Kenny's article does a great disservice to the true history of adoption, to the monumental brick walls faced by most adopted adults (including Joan Burton) and to adopted people themselves.

Claire McGettrick, Mari Steed and Susan Lohan

Adoption Rights Alliance,

Malahide, 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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