A MIDDLE-AGED woman who only found out 11 years ago that she had been adopted – and who later discovered that the adoption was illegal – has said thousands of others had been victims of the same injustice.
Theresa Tinggal (58) spent most of her life believing that she had been born into the family who reared her until an uncle finally told her the truth.
Two years ago, her records, along with those of another 1,000 children, were found in the attic of a Dublin house which had been a nursing home.
Mrs Tinggal, was adopted by a couple in Dublin who were listed as her birth parents.
She now lives in England and believes around 2,000 children were illegally placed with other families. But the real number could run into many more.
The children, whose birth mothers would have been in one of 42 mother and baby homes, were illegally placed with families long after the first legislation regulating adoption in the early 1950s.
Mrs Tinggal, who is supported by Independent TD Clare Daly and the organisation Adoption Rights Now, said that during a recent meeting with Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald she was told it would be next year before new search-and-trace legislation for adoptees was introduced.
She has called for anyone who finds birth records in their homes to hand them over to the authorities.
Ms Daly said: "I think it's one of these horror stories of Ireland in the past."
Paul Redmond, of Adoption Rights Now, said: "Of all the Catholic institutions in this country, the mother and baby homes are the last dirty little secret from Catholic Ireland – and in my opinion the worst."
The minister said: "Efforts have been made by the Adoption Authority of Ireland and the HSE to facilitate the investigations individuals are undertaking in endeavouring to establish medical and/or identifying information about themselves and facilitating access to the national contact preference register."