Catherine Keely was born in St Patrick’s mother and baby home in Dublin in 1959 and was put up for adoption in Temple Hill Infant Hospital in January 1960.
“I don’t know why I was sent to Temple Hill, no one will tell me,” the 61-year-old said.
Although she says she is “lucky” to have been adopted by her parents, Ms Keely said she had “no help” from Tusla in learning about her father, who she eventually identified through DNA tests.
“I was looking for any information in relation to my father, and I was told I’d have to wait anything up to a year,” she said.
After finding her mother in 1996 through St Patrick’s, Ms Keely later contacted Tusla looking for information about her father. She said the Adoption Authority intervened and “speeded
In 2019, the authority contacted her and said “someone else had made contact – it turns out I had a sister and a brother”.
“It was only that they were computerising their records in 2019 and discovered the match,” she said.
When she visited the Tusla office to get more information, she said she met a woman who was “no more interested in me than the man in the moon”.
“I gave her my information and two or three months later, nothing. I just wanted to know was my father’s name on the file, or anything that I didn’t have.”
She said she was told there was a waiting list and it could be 12 to 18 months before someone got back. Ms Keely felt she was “being sent around in circles”.
She paid to get DNA testing. “I ended up getting my DNA done and we found my birth father through that. We found his family,” she said.
Ms Keely’s DNA matched that of a woman who was her cousin, and through her she identified her father, who had died in 1981.
She also found a sister who had been adopted from another home and a brother who had been in an industrial school in Galway.
Through DNA tests, she found nine half-siblings from her birth parents’ other marriages.
After going through the experience, Ms Keely said: “They say they are tied up with the law, but I think everyone is entitled to their birth cert.”
She believes two different agencies are needed to cover child protection and adoption separately.