Wednesday 28 June 2017

Mary Kenny: Searching for birth parents can be tricky – not everyone will want to reconnect

Judi Dench and Steve Coogan star in the film 'Philomena', which tells the story of Irish children being sold abroad.
Judi Dench and Steve Coogan star in the film 'Philomena', which tells the story of Irish children being sold abroad.
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

The British education minister, Michael Gove, made a rather emotional statement last week about having been an adopted child.

In a tribute to the diligence of good social workers, he said: "As someone who started their life in care, whose life was transformed because of the skill of social workers and the love of parents who were not my biological mother and father, but who are – in every sense – my real mum and dad, this is personal. A child's opportunity should not be a matter of chance – it should be the mission which guides all our actions."

Michael Gove – who is regarded as a possible future prime minister – was indeed adopted at the age of four months by an Aberdeen fishmonger and his wife (who worked in an institute for the deaf) and given a loving, encouraging childhood by his adoptive parents. Born in 1967, he went to a state school but won a scholarship to a renowned Scottish academy, and from there got to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where he became president of the Oxford Union. I knew Gove slightly when he was a journalist on 'The Times' and was impressed by his drive, energy and common sense; he married a fellow journalist, Sarah Vine, and has children of his own now.

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