In an Ireland of another era, a young mother brought her six-month-old baby to St Patrick's Mother and Baby home in Dublin, in the belief that the nuns had found a home for the child who would grow up to have a better life. That baby is now an adult who can attest that neither of those things happened.
"I was abandoned and left unaccompanied for 18 years in institutions… this was because of the colour of my skin, my father was African. I left the mother and baby home with two others, and two out of the three of us were mixed race. So more mixed-race children than white children left for industrial school that day… I remember this well as we were all crying in the back of a car. Even then I was never adopted nor fostered out, I was left without a family life.
"All my records at that time show I was racialised and racially profiled… for example, all records referred to my colour and ethnicity, even my medical records, as if I had a serious disease that marked me out as inferior… this indicated a mind-set that saw me as some problem child."
To be a child in an industrial school was traumatic. To be a mixed-race child in an industrial school, was, as one former resident puts it, catastrophic.
Mixed-race survivors of mother and baby homes were stripped of their identity and culture by religious orders who excised their parentage from their records, according to a report obtained by the Sunday Independent. Their skin colour was listed as a "defect" and they were considered unsuitable for adoption.
These testimonies of child cruelty are contained in the unpublished report of the Collaborative Forum on Mother and Baby homes that was commissioned by the outgoing Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone.
The minister appointed the forum in parallel with the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby homes, which discovered the remains of children in a disused sewerage container at the site of the former mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway.
Its members included former residents of mother and baby homes, campaigners and a retired civil servant as chair.
Their remit was to inform the Government on how best to address the damaging institutional legacy on survivors of the regime. The group worked diligently for six months to deliver their report to the minister last year, with the expectation that it would be published. But it was not.
Katherine Zappone was advised by the Attorney General that it was potentially defamatory and could interfere with the work of the ongoing Commission of Investigation into mother and baby homes.
Instead, to the disappointment and anger of forum members, the minister published only its recommendations.
A copy leaked to the Sunday Independent reveals that the report does indeed contain scathing criticism, much of it directed at the child and family agency, Tusla, which controls access to birth records from adoption services and some mother and baby homes.
The First Report of the Collaborative Forum of Former Residents of Mother and Baby Homes captures a harsh and cruel era through the living witnesses who survived it.
It gives a powerful voice to the discrimination endured by children of other ethnic backgrounds, including children from the Traveller community and of mixed race.
The report likens the institutional racism to the "systemic racial segregation in the Apartheid era of South Africa". Mothers who were members of the mixed-race community within the various institutions report how they were "racially profiled and their children were eugenically rated for likely intelligence based in part on the nuns' assessment of the intelligence of the natural mother and 'how negroid' the features of the infant were".
According to the report, religious orders often did not record the ethnicity of a child's parents and, if it was, "Africa" was the main default description on file. One survivor told the forum that "all records referred to my colour and ethnicity, even my medical records, as if I had a serious disease that marked me out as inferior".
The report recounts the "clear memories" from one survivor that they were "segregated from white babies and left on potties all day because staff at St Patrick's mother and baby 'homes' were afraid to touch us for fear of contamination by our brown skins", and that they were routinely never offered for adoption - "the preferred route being to shuffle our community off to industrial school".
It reports a mixed-race survivor who told the forum that the "removal of our identity, while at the same time refusing our claim to an Irish identity, has been catastrophic for the mental health of the mixed-race community. This was particularly important to mixed-race, unaccompanied children on the receiving end of racist practices in these 'homes'".
An unlikely corroboration of the compassionless treatment of these children is contained in a memo sent to the then Minister for Education, Donogh O'Malley, in 1966, which captures the endemic racism of the era with ugly precision: "A certain amount of coloured children were seen in several schools, their future presents a problem difficult of any satisfactory solution. Their prospects of marriage in the country are practically nil and their future happiness and welfare can only be assured in a country with a fair multi-racial population, since they are not received by either black or white... they are also at a disadvantage in relation to adoption... these unfortunate children, in particular the girls are frequently hot-tempered and difficult to control."
There are still depths to be plumbed in Ireland's cruel past, according to Susan Lohan of the Adoption Rights Alliance and member of the Collaborative Forum.
The overarching theme of the report is the battle endured by former residents of children's institutions, many of them aging and vulnerable, to trace their identities.
Tusla, which controls access to birth records from mother and baby homes and adoption societies, is accused of withholding personal information from applicants detained as children across various institutions on the grounds that to release it "could cause harm to the wider family members".
The outgoing Minister for Children is criticised for transferring records from mother and baby homes to the child and family agency as "astonishing", "regressive" and "insensitive".
The "levels of anger, frustration and discontent" towards Tusla from survivors trying to access their records has "escalated to record numbers", the report says. Their experiences of trying to find out who they are have been "damaging and re-traumatising" for the most vulnerable survivors.
The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016, which is much criticised in the report, fell by the wayside shortly before the change of government.
The legislation attempted to address the rights of adoptees to their identity, while balancing the rights of natural parents to not be contacted. In the end, it could not be done. The minister was advised of constitutional issues with allowing adopted people unrestricted access to their birth information and attempts at reaching consensus failed.
The spirit of inclusivity in which the collaborative forum was founded has given way to feelings of exclusion.
Ms Lohan said she was disappointed that the forum's report has not been published. "I think it was an exercise in lip service to keep the population of unmarried mothers and disenfranchised children from making noise while we waited patiently for the Commission of Investigation to report," she said.
Meanwhile, the change in government means that an estimated €5m ringfenced by the outgoing government for expert advisers, counselling and an extensive research project, is at risk of "falling by the wayside", Ms Lohan said.
"To the next government and the next minister, can I say that they should tear up the Adoption Tracing Bill and should consult exclusively with groups affected by Ireland's forced adoption industry and not officialdom."
In a statement to the Sunday Independent, the Minister for Children said she has already expressed her disappointment she could not publish the forum's full report, saying that it cut across the work of the Commission of Investigation. There were also "concerns" about publishing material that makes allegations against others "in the absence of fair procedures being afforded to the persons concerned".
Once the Commission of Investigation has reported, the forum's report will be revisited, the statement said. "Further decisions regarding the Bill will be a matter for the incoming Minister for Children and Youth Affairs."
Tusla did not respond to queries from the Sunday Independent at the time of going to press.