...regaining identities, histories and rights for adopted people...  

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Unlike most other members of society, people adopted under a closed secret system (like the system in Ireland) grow up with a gap in their identities.  Adopted people, at whatever stage of their lives they decide to explore their history, will find themselves wanting to gather as much information as possible in an effort to build the jigsaw puzzle of their history and heritage.  As the journey progresses, many people find that everything from paperwork to photographs will have huge importance.  To other people they're just forms, letters and photos, but to an adopted person they're jigsaw pieces and vital parts of one's heritage.

We hope that the photos and information we have provided will help you piece together your jigsaw puzzle.  If you have any photos or other items you are willing to share send them to heritage@adoptionrightsalliance.com or feel free to contact us if we have left any home or agency out.

Mother & Baby Homes
While much has been rightly made about the treatment of women and girls in Magdalene Laundries, Adoption Rights Alliance would like to ensure that women who were ill-treated in Mother and Baby Homes are not forgotten.  We are aware that women and girls who resided at Mother and Baby Homes were often treated cruelly and subjected to physical and emotional abuse.
The women and girls were treated like pariahs, with the nuns assuming control of their lives once they entered the home. From entering the homes, girls and women were forced to wear a uniform and were deprived of their own clothes, a measure designed to both humiliate inmates and prevent them from escaping.   

Usually the women and girls were forced to stay in the homes for three years unless they could pay the huge sum of IR£100 to leave.  Considering that a typical industrial wage was IR£3 per week in 1955, it is safe to assert that most would have had to stay for the three years.  Capitation grants were paid by local authorities, yet the women were forced to work long arduous hours, sometimes carrying out humiliating, not to mention unnecessary tasks, such as being forced to pluck grass on their hands and knees (see The Light in the Window by June Goulding).  

During their time in the Mother and Baby Homes, these women and girls were treated in a sub-human fashion, often denied adequate medical care or pain relief while giving birth.  The women were also forced to carry out tough manual labour, whether they were pregnant or not.  After their time was up (sometimes before) their babies were taken from them and sent for adoption, sometimes to America.  Abuse was often cruel in an emotional and psychological sense:  We have received reports from natural mothers who spent time in Mother and Baby Homes who were forced to carry out various jobs, including the packing of greeting cards for the birth of new babies.  The nuns had no regard for the fact that the women and girls may have been grieving for the loss of their babies.  

To read further about Mother and Baby Homes, we recommend The Light in the Window by June Goulding.  We also recommend A Woman to Blame by Nell McCafferty for an insight into the circumstances faced by natural mothers.  Visit our Reading List for other reading material.

Click the links below for photos, paperwork and other information about Mother and Baby Homes and other institutions such as Temple Hill.

St. Patrick's Home, Navan Road

St. Patrick's Guild and Temple Hill

Ard Mhuire, Dunboyne

Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary

Sacred Heart, Bessboro

Manor House, Castlepollard

St. Clare's, Stamullen

St. Rita's Nursing Home

Please note we have gathered the information from survivor accounts and what little records are available to the public.  Until the religious run agencies open their records it will not be possible to compile a full history of past adoption practice in Ireland.  If you have any corrections, contact us at  heritage@adoptionrightsalliance.com 

“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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