Sunday, October 16, 2011

Suffer The Little Children - Irish Church Adoption Scandals

Ever since the time I was told I was adopted I've always longed to know my birth mother. (I will write about this in more detail at a later stage). I clearly remember that dark winter evening, the warm glow from the living-room fire grate softening the crushing words that were penetrating my small ears. I was not my Mammy and Daddy's little girl. They chose me from a small group of children being looked after in a home of some sort they said. My real Mammy had to give me up because I was "born out of wedlock" as it was always described, God's punishment to her for having me. That's what my little six year old brain had to try and take in that awful winter evening.

That story was repeated many times over in my lifetime while living with my adoptive parents, as if to firmly instil in me the sense of mortal sin associated with giving birth outside of marriage. Indeed, many's the time my father reminded me that if I ever came home pregnant I would be out the door with my suitcase before I could say Jack Robinson, whoever he is! When I asked where would I go he'd tell me, into one of the institutions they have for "people like that". I don't think my parents were much different from any others as that was the general thinking back in the 1950s, 60s and even 70s. Such sad times.

I was one of the lucky kiddies. Had I not been adopted at two and a half years of age I might well have ended up in one of the residential schools that were dotted all over the country. As it was, I spent some time in a north inner Dublin hostel for unmarried mothers in the Mother and Baby Unit with my birth mother before doing the rounds of foster families and spending five months with pancreatitis in St. Kevins, now St. James's Hospital. But as they say, it could have been so much worse.

So, this could just as well have been my own birth mother's heartbreaking story: "The Catholic Church Stole My Child" - see how lucky I am!

My next post will detail my reaction to attending Anu Productions' "Laundry" - a site-specific performance in the Magdalene Laundry at Lower Sean McDermott Street, Dublin.

Above image: Me, at around three years of age, shortly after my adoption.



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