A FATHER who was separated from his daughter when she was just three months old has finally been reunited with her after nearly four decades.
Christy Cox, from Co Wicklow, never gave up hope of finding his daughter Wendy (Suzanne) Parle, after she was taken away by a priest and put up for adoption in 1973.
Christy, who was 22 years old at the time, was working when a priest called up to his parents' home in Crumlin with Wendy's mother, and insisted that the baby be handed over.
The young man rushed back home to convince Wendy's mum that he could take care of the child, but the priest prevented him from speaking with her in private.
"He basically snatched the baby right out of my dad's arms," Christy said.
"I contacted our local parish priest and he told us if the mother wants to take her then there is nothing we could do.
"I think she had a huge amount of pressure placed on her by that priest, and he knew if I talked to her she would have let Suzanne stay.
"But she was young and in those days what the priest said really stood for something."
Christy added that his parents also suffered from Wendy's absence.
"It was devastating for them. Mum had 18 kids so she was a real 'Mammy'.
"There was no reason to snatch her like that.
"I had a job and had family support in raising her from my parents. She would have been reared by me if it wasn't for the Church.
"They obviously weren't thinking about the interests of the child."
After she was taken away, Christy began to search for his a daughter but he was unable to find her.
Each year he contacted the Adoption Board but he failed to get any more information.
"I just kept coming up against a brick wall after brick wall," Christy recalled.
"No one would help me. I wasn't even allowed her baptism cert. I was told absolutely nothing.
"My child was basically grabbed off me and no one would provide any answers.
"Her birth cert appeared to have been tampered with.
"I had been searching high and low for over 30 years but there was no way I was going to give up."
After 38 years, he finally managed to make contact with Wendy -- the name Suzanne was later given -- online.
Christy had signed up to the site iwasadopted.com with the help of his sister-in-law Anne Marie Cox, and Wendy's partner Raymond Noland had also brought the site to her attention.
Wendy admitted that she was a little anxious at first about contacting her father, and she did not want to get her hopes up in case they weren't a match but their relationship was eventually confirmed and they met this month.
"It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life but I couldn't ask to find a nicer person," Wendy said.
"I was nearly squeezed to death when I arrived at the door.
"I wanted to find my daddy but I was afraid he might have emigrated.
"Also I didn't want to disturb any family he might have started. But I always had this sense that he was trying to locate me and still loved me."
The pair were amazed to discover that they both lived in Co Wicklow and less than an hour away from each other.
Wendy now intends to walk down the aisle this year with her biological father at her side.