‘Every moment was a second thought’- Irish woman hoping to find son she gave up for adoption 28 years ago
An Irish woman who placed her newborn son up for adoption almost 30 years ago has said that there is not a day that goes by she doesn’t think of him and said her decision was motivated by love.
Emer Halpenny (47) became pregnant unexpectedly when she was 19 and placed her son Andrew up for adoption four days after his birth.
The Dublin teacher said that she felt a family unit would be able to give baby Andrew the life he deserved but shared her fears that he might think it was because she did not want him.
“I think it’s important to know that if somebody has given you up for a different life it’s not because they did not love you,” said Emer, speaking on TV3’s Adoption Stories.
“There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think about him.”
Emer gave birth to her baby in February 1988 and spent four days with him in hospital, memories of which she said are extremely precious.
“I experienced that unconditional love that you have for a child. It was no longer all about me. Of course he was the most beautiful baby in the ward. He was healthy. He just didn’t look like anybody else on earth, he was my baby. I had him for four days and I knew I had him for four days.
“I kept him with me as much as I possibly could. He slept in the room with me. I didn’t nurse him myself, I didn’t want to have that bond broken. I thought it would be too much,” she said.
"Every moment was a second thought. In those moments, they’re kind of, for me, wrapped up in snapshots. You know, the matron wrapping the baby up, my mother standing as a tower of strength for me, the social worker and the pain in her eyes, that was one of the very few times that the baby cried.
“It’s a very difficult memory but very precious,” Emer said.
Emer is now married and a mum to two teenage girls, Aisling and Ciara, but said she will never forget the day she left the Coombe without Andrew.
“ I remember my mother saying ‘We’ll put on your lipstick and hold your head high as we walk out’.
“And that’s what we did. When we were walking out the door, there was a couple leaving the hospital at the same time with their baby and I thought that was really cruel of God to do that.
“Years later when I left the Coombe with my husband and my baby, I felt like I passed the ghost of that girl. I felt it very strongly,” she said.
In the documentary, Emer recalled a meeting with Andrew’s adoptive parents and said she felt a bond with the woman who was to raise her child.
“When I walked into the room, what I saw was that the mother had been crying and I loved her for that. I loved that she was that sensitive, that she got it. I don’t know if she would have seen it the same way but I feel as if I bonded with this woman, the two of us crying,” she said.
When Andrew turned 18 in 2006, Emer hoped he would get in contact, but when he didn’t she asked the adoption agency if they could send her an update of how he was. A photo was sent to her, and Emer said she couldn’t help but laugh.
“I got a photo at that time which made me laugh out loud because I went, ‘Yeah, there’s the jaw, there’s those different features’. It was funny to see those features in a male face,” she said.
Emer, who lives in Dublin with her family, said she would love the opportunity to meet Andrew in the future, but also fears his rejection.
“What I would find difficult would be if I did initiate and he rejected, I think that would be something I probably wouldn’t get over.
“I think it would be a lovely completion of that happy story to have him a part of it,” she said.
The brand new series of ‘Adoption Stories’ airs on Wednesday 5th October at 8.30pm on TV3.