Friday 24 May 2019

'I'll search until the day I die': Irish woman searches for her natural mother after unveiling illegal adoption

Theresa Hiney Tinggal pictured when she was a child
Theresa Hiney Tinggal pictured when she was a child
Theresa Hiney Tinggal said she will search for her birth mother until she dies.

Patricia Murphy

An Irish woman who discovered, when she was 48, that she was illegally adopted has revealed she won’t stop searching for her natural mother “until the day she dies”.

Theresa Hiney Tinggal discovered she had been illegally adopted by her parents at birth and said she is determined to find out the truth about her biological mother and father.

“It always worried me that my mother and I didn’t have that bond. I remember thinking and saying to my friends I really feel that I didn’t come out of her body. This was six months before I discovered I was adopted,” said Theresa in TV3 documentary Adoption Stories.

“I was 48 at the time. I spoke to my uncle who is her brother who lives in the north of England and we were very close. I asked him why he thought [my mother] and I had not been close.

“He said ‘You’re not going to like it Theresa but they’re not your parents’. I said ‘What do you mean they’re not my parents?’

“He said ‘You were adopted illegally. I went home to Ireland and you were six months old and you were just playing there and I never asked anymore questions’.

Theresa Hiney Tinggal pictured when she was a child
Theresa Hiney Tinggal pictured when she was a child
Theresa Hiney Tinggal said she will search for her birth mother until she dies.

“I was just in shock. My birth certificate says Theresa Hiney and it says my parents are Kathleen and James Hiney. I thought he was getting old and he couldn’t be right,” said Theresa.

However a conversation with her sister unveiled that the family had kept the truth from Theresa since she was born.

“I phoned my sister in the north of England and said ‘Do you know someone’s just told me I’m adopted’. She said ‘Oh my God, who told you?’

“And I said ‘You mean you knew?’

“And she said ‘Yeah I’ve known for years’,” said Theresa.

Theresa soon discovered that there was something amiss with her records and delved deeper into the mystery that surrounded her adoption.

“My father had met a friend in the city once and he had a little girl with him and my father was admiring her and the man said we’ve adopted her but not in the legal sense. And my father said 'We’d love to have more children'. I assume that this man put my mum and dads name forward.

“My mother said the social worker’s mother came to the house, they lived in Cabra at the time, and said that she heard that she’d be interested in taking a child and there was a young girl who was pregnant and the baby was going to be due in June and she asked my mother if she’d be interested and she said yes,” said Theresa.

However, Theresa has not discovered the identity of her mother as her birth and baptism certificates have been doctored.

“The Health Board contacted me a year after I discovered I was adopted and said they’d found an index card with the name Margaret O’Grady on it linking it to me.”

“They had no idea if it was a real name or not and that’s all I had to go on.

“A while later I had an email from the nurse’s grandson and they were clearing out the old nursing home and he found a record... a register in the attic from 1938 to 1968 and there was 1000 names on it. Some of them illegal some of them not.

“I got a scan of my entry and it just said Theresa Marion Hiney, mother Kathleen Hiney, born Carenlough Road Cabra,  and delivered by Dr Keane.

“He might not even have been there. My adoptive mother was actually put down as my birth mother. It signifies that there was something going on between the doctor, the nurse and the social worker. I’m one of the lucky ones that have a file. Without that I’d have nothing at all,” said Theresa.

Theresa, who is now a mother herself with two grandchildren, believes her natural mother’s family orchestrated the illegal adoption.

“My mother said she got £45 from the doctor and it’s also in my file handed over.

Theresa Hiney Tinggal said she will search for her birth mother until she dies.
Theresa Hiney Tinggal said she will search for her birth mother until she dies.
Theresa Hiney Tinggal pictured when she was a child

“I don’t feel like a doctor took it out of his own pocket and gave it to my mother. I feel it was my birth mother’s family and it was to be kept secret for the rest of her life. I was to be registered in another name and the nurse was aware of it. She went with my mother to make sure I was baptised in that name,” said Theresa.

Theresa filed a case with the Irish Human Rights Commission regarding her traumatic discovery as she feels she has been left in limbo by the illegal activity carried out on her birth certificate but the investigation was not taken any further by them.

“This needs to be investigated. This was a scam that went on in the 1950s and its left people like me in limbo.

“Legally adopted people don’t have access to their records so what chance do I have? What are they hiding? What happened and where are the records?

“I have a right to an identify. I think it’s a big human rights issue. I think they have the evidence there. They felt there want enough paper work. I had told them there wasn’t any more information and they didn’t think it was worth pursuing any further. The fact is my file has evidence in it but its stopped there.

Theresa revealed that she will never give up the search for her natural mother with whom she longs for a relationship.

“People say to me she might be dead now but she might not.

“My natural mother is out there I just feel it and wouldn’t it be just a joy to have her in my life. It’s on my mind all the time. I’ll search until the day I die. It’s like she disappeared into thin air.

“My sister always said the reason we never told you is because you’re like a dog with a bone and I said yeah but now I’m a dog with an even bigger bone.

“I’m not going to stop,” Theresa finished.

Theresa’s story airs on the series finale of ‘Adoption Stories’ this Thursday (16th July) at 8.30pm on TV3.

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