Sunday 4 December 2016

Maeve Sheehan: Joan Burton was a TD when she found her mother - but too late

Children from the homes tales of success and the need for change

Published 15/06/2014 | 02:30

FAMILY: Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton
FAMILY: Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton
FAMILY: Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton as a child with mother Bridie Burton and brother Paul; Joan was supposed to travel to America to be adopted but was thought to be too weak for the journey and instead found a happy home with Bridie Burton in Dublin. Photo: David Conachy

Labour leadership candidate shares her story with Maeve Sheehan and tells of tracing her family and the journey |to find her birth mother

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THERE are thousands of photographs of Joan Burton, but only one of when she was a baby. The sole pictorial record of her infancy is on a very old passport which is stamped with entry visas, one for Newfoundland and one for the United States. She was probably just months old when the Sisters of Charity applied for it, expecting to ship her across the Atlantic to be adopted by a Canadian or an American family.

She was a thin child and it was thought she wasn’t strong enough for the journey. The nuns arranged for her to be “boarded out” with three different families until, at the age of two, her adoptive mother, Bridie Burton, came to the convent in Blackrock, gathered her in her arms with joy and took her home to Rialto Cottages in Dublin 8.

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