| 6.5°C Dublin

My poor gran had to give up her baby boy

MY GRANDMOTHER was a single mum, just like me.

She was forced to give up her baby for adoption. I kept mine. I saw my baby take his first step, I heard him utter his first word and I cried with joy the first time he gave me a kiss. My grandmother’s son was sent away and she experienced none of those precious moments with him.

It was a secret she took to the grave. My grandmother went on to have eight more children. She had a sad life. Her 10- and 11-year old children drowned on a family day out by the seaside. She developed cancer and passed away when my dad was 21. I never met her.


But I think about her all the time. I love being a single mum. My life is very different to my granny’s. Can you imagine me working in a laundry now, knowing that I was about to give up my son Gary for adoption? It’s almost unthinkable.

Yet it’s not so long ago since that happened. The ‘fallen’ women went to live with the nuns and worked in the laundries until their hands bled.

They breastfed their babies and then when the babies were weaned, the Catholic Church arranged for the babies to be given, or should I say sold, to wealthy families in America or Canada.

My uncle was sent to Canada. I found out about his existence only a few years ago. When he walked through the door of our family home it was a real shock. He was the image of my father. We’re very fond of each other.

It’s devastating to think of how single mothers were treated back in my grandmother’s day. It is so hypocritical that the babies’ fathers got off scot-free.

I never thought I’d be a single mother. After all, it’s not something you dream about when you’re little. You suppose you’re going to fall in love, get married and start a family with the man of your dreams. That didn’t happen to me. Life isn’t a fairytale.


But my little man has slotted nicely into my life. I used to be a loner. I’m a bit obsessed with silence and solitude. I even recently got my apartment soundproofed.

I always used to think that being a mother wouldn’t suit me because all I ever do is read, write and travel. How could you do that with a screaming baby? But Gary doesn’t make noise. He and I are completely compatible. He sleeps at least 12 hours and amuses himself when I’m working. He is my constant little companion. He will never be taken away, or sold in the name of religion.

Every day I count my blessings. I am extremely lucky to have my child, but my heart still breaks for my granny who had to kiss hers goodbye.

Along Came A Stork, Marisa's latest book, is out now