I felt the need to share my adoption journey from the perspective of a 30-something-year-old. I think it is important for young people out there who are at home during these uncertain times to learn of the hard, difficult paths so many adopted people have had to go through to get to this stage.
I feel it’s important this troublesome part of Irish history is written down and studied some day in schools.
When I first got to grips with my own adoption story I was 16-years-old and had sent a letter to the Southern Health Board in Cork, where my adoption was arranged and where all my files were kept. I did this without my family knowing. I did this for myself because even at that age I knew that these things were better off kept quiet. I knew that nobody really wanted or knew how to react.
This is what it was like in Ireland in the 1990s – forget the dark ages! I found this extremely hard to deal with as we in our family believed in open, honest discussions and were always able to freely talk about our adoptions at that time.
I am the youngest of three adopted siblings, all from different backgrounds but united under one amazing family unit. From my earliest memory, our parents were always open about where we all came from, and our journey to this family unit. It was something we all grew up with.
We owned our own stories, unique to us, and dealt with them in our own ways as we grew up.
After 20 years of searching and constantly sending letters back and forth to agencies; I’m at the stage where I still can’t openly talk about meeting with my birth mother. Society has deemed her to have done something really bad at the time she was pregnant with me.
She had to conceal her pregnancy and went to St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home in Dublin to have me.
She told me in the brief meeting we shared that she stayed there with me until I was adopted by my parents. She left and never told any of her family.
Even to this day, she has kept me hidden from her husband and my two step-brothers. It’s a hard thing to try and get my head around; but I do it for her to protect her identity. She desperately wants to keep secret an identity I so stubbornly want to know more about, and more importantly be proud of.
It’s my fight for 20 years to seek my identity, my birth records and the answers to all my birth questions that any child asks when growing up. This was very awkward and uncomfortable for me when I was growing up.
The report into mother and baby homes will reveal, particularly to a new generation of younger people, what Ireland once did to women who had the audacity to love outside of marriage and to bear children who had to be “given up".
I think the discussion that is taking place surrounding the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation is vital for younger generations. I hope for a discussion on concealed birth records to be open to adoptees and that women will never be made feel ashamed for having a child.
I thank you for always highlighting these journeys in your paper.
Full name and address with editor
We were all well aware of the horrors that took place
When I was a small child and misbehaved, my mother would threaten to send me to a mother and baby home. She never did. But everyone knew they were God-awful places.
For the leaders of the time to say they didn’t know what was going on is just untrue. We all knew, even small kids never mind the dogs in the streets.
Patsy Manley Garland
Forum for balanced debate seems to have disappeared
I’M just curious. Whatever happened to balanced debate?
Am I the only one wondering where enquiring minds have gone?
Until recently we expected the government opposition – within the bounds of reason and respect – to oppose with well-crafted alternatives.
Those of us old enough to remember can recall balanced, impartial, journalism. Now, most journalistic articles or news comment in print or across the airwaves are opinion pieces, with any alternative excoriated, laughed out of court, or subject to censorship by omission.
Even in the bad old days we all knew what terrorist groups stood for, as against the more peaceful alternative. In 2008 the government was able to give their excuses for what we could all see was a shambles.
Why did 2020 close off any alternative narrative, even if it was incorrect? There was once a spirit of “I fundamentally disagree with your opinion, but I will fight to the death to permit you to hold it”. Where has it disappeared to?
Blessington, Co Wicklow