Tuesday 21 May 2019

“I couldn’t imagine loving her more if I gave birth to her,” one mum's journey to Ethiopia for her daughter

Irish couple Lorraine and Noel Byrne and their daughter Ruby May.
Irish couple Lorraine and Noel Byrne and their daughter Ruby May.

Lorraine Byrne tells of her journey to Africa to meet her daughter Ruby May, who was abandoned as a newborn.

Irish couple Lorraine and Noel Byrne had been waiting over 20 years for children. After several IVF and other fertility treatments, they decided to adopt. Seven and a half years after first being placed on the adoption waiting list, their declaration was due to run out in October 2013, and the couple had decided to call it a day when that happened. 

It had been a long road. After being approved for adoption, they first applied to Bulgaria and waited over 18 months, next they turned to Russia and were on that list for a further six months when a friend adopted a baby from Ethiopia. There are 96,000 children in orphanages throughout Ethiopia. 

Ruby Mae ‘Miracle’ Byrne’s life started off very differently to how it is now. Abandoned outside a hotel as a newborn, she was brought to an orphanage in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

“When our friend told us they badly needed parents for these children, there was no contest. We said we want a child and a family. We applied to Ethiopia in May and were home in August with Ruby Mae.”

Despite the initial wait, things moved relatively quickly after the Byrnes got the call to say there was a baby for them. It came on the Wednesday and they had to be in Ethiopia by the Sunday. It was a bank holiday weekend, and the only flights they could get were first class.

“I can’t explain how it was seeing her,” recalls Lorraine.

“We had butterflies. As soon as we walked into the room, there were eight cots, four pink and four blue. Ruby Mae was facing us. She seemed to reach out her hand and I took it.

“I couldn’t imagine loving her more if I gave birth to her. It was instinct, she was mine.”

They don’t know much about Ruby Mae’s beginnings, except that she was abandoned at about six weeks old and found by a police officer. They don’t even know her exact date of birth.

Ruby Mae was checked medically in Ethiopia and also when she came to Dublin. She is in perfect health. For the Byrnes it’s been a life-changing experience, and they are smitten.

“Ruby Mae has given us so much joy. She’s made us a family and that’s all we’ve ever wanted.

“People might think we have saved Ruby Mae from the life she would have had over there, but really she has saved us.”

Read other stories of adoption in the new issue of Mothers & Babies here......



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