Tuesday 16 July 2019

'Finding out at 49 I was adopted was Earth-shattering'

Dolores Quinlan, who was given up for adoption, at her home in Celbridge with her dog ‘Abbey’. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Dolores Quinlan, who was given up for adoption, at her home in Celbridge with her dog ‘Abbey’. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

On the day news broke that at least 126 babies were illegally registered by a religious organisation, Dolores Quinlan was meeting her birth mother for the first time.

Like the children at St Patrick's Guild, Ms Quinlan might never have known she was adopted. But she found out two years ago following the death of her adoptive mother when her adoptive father told her the details of her birth.

The information had been withheld from her for almost half-a-century.

"I only found out around two years ago. It was after my mother had died, I was 49," she explained.

"When I asked my dad who was the adoption agency, he said there was none, it was a GP [who] organised the adoption."

Ms Quinlan believes there were thousands like her.

She had been given up for adoption to the Girls Rotunda Aid Society, set up by the parish of St Mary's Pro Cathedral in Dublin in the 19th century.

She was baptised by a priest from the cathedral at the Church of the Holy Family on Aughrim Street, but her birth parents' names were not put on the cert.

"My mother was in a relationship, but when she got pregnant he didn't want to know," Ms Quinlan said.


Ms Quinlan, from Killester in Dublin, made it clear she wasn't angry and said her adoptive parents did what they were asked to do.

She admitted that finding out she was adopted was a shock.

"It was Earth-shattering really," she said. "But I was determined to find out my story."

When she contacted the Adoption Authority of Ireland, she was told there was a 5pc chance of tracking down her birth mother.

But luckily for her, she received a call letting her know that there was some information.

"Forty eight years ago, a district nurse had seen me - there was a baby that shouldn't have been there - and had reported it, so there was a file.

"That file has been sitting at the HSE and Tusla for decades," she explained.

Ms Quinlan said she had tried to get more detailed records from the Church, but was denied. But a breakthrough in her search came by using DNA and she was overjoyed to find her birth mother.

They first met on Tuesday. "We did both remark on the timing," she said, given it was the day news of illegal adoption scandal broke.

Irish Independent

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