Wednesday 22 May 2019

Mother was told 'adopted children shun birth parents'

Tressa Donnelly Reeves and her son Andre Reeves, who was previously named Patrick Farrell, at the High Court. Picture: PA
Tressa Donnelly Reeves and her son Andre Reeves, who was previously named Patrick Farrell, at the High Court. Picture: PA

Aodhan O'Faolain

A woman who spent more than 50 years searching for her son has told the High Court she was told by a nun during her quest that adopted children don't want anything to do with their birth parents.

Tressa Donnelly Reeves gave birth to a boy on March 13, 1961, and said she named him Andre, as he would be the only Andre in Ireland, in the hope of finding him.

He was placed with a family at Liscolman, Tullow, Co Carlow, and named Patrick Farrell.

They were eventually reunited in 2013 after a long battle for information they claim they were entitled to, but were allegedly denied.

Giving evidence on the second day of her action against the State and St Patrick's Guild (Incorporated) adoption society, run by Catholic nuns, Ms Reeves said she was encouraged not to look for Andre.

Her son Andre Reeves/Patrick Farrell is also suing the defendants.

Ms Reeves said her mother also told her not to tell anyone she had a baby, particularly a man, as she would have been seen as "soiled goods".

She was unmarried and 21 when she was sent to Ireland to have the baby, with friends told she was learning cookery.

She accepted signing a consent for Patrick's adoption days after he was born. She said in the early 1970s she returned to St Patrick's office in Dublin. She said the nun, "who wanted to get rid of me", told her St Patrick's had "no details" about Andre's birth, and that "adopted children never want anything to do with their birth parents, especially the boys".

At the clinic in Clontarf where she gave birth, the midwife who had delivered her son told her he was among babies that were sent to the US, and that it would be impossible to trace him as there was "no paperwork". She said she was shocked as she had been previously told by nuns that he was sent to a family "down the country".

She renewed her search for her son in the mid-1990s after a cousin told her about changes to entitlement to information on adoptions.

Ms Reeves and her son claim the 'adoption' was unlawful and done without the legal safeguards. In their action seeking damages, they claim the society made false misrepresentations on Patrick's location and allege the State failed to vindicate or recognise their rights. The claims are denied and the State parties say they are not liable. Felix McEnroy SC, for St Patrick's, asked the court to strike out the claim on grounds that it appeared to be one of personal injury and procedurally different.

Mr Justice Denis McDonald said he would rule on the application at a later date, but has allowed the plaintiffs to continue their evidence.

The case continues next week.

Irish Independent

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