Adopt an Open Approach to Historic Secret

Irish American Child Legacy needs State Help to Unravel, says Valerie O’Brien
Published in The Sunday Times, 17th Nov 2013 p 17.

History and story-telling is something that we, as Irish people,think we are good at but many realise now there are some stories that get told more readily than others. In the wake of the recent Ryan, Murphy and McAleese reports, many previously untold stories have come forth.

Stephen Frear’s film“Philomena” shines a light on another aspect of Irish life in need of urgent attention. It has brought the story of the clandestine adoption of Irish children by US families to the fore. These stories have been both ‘known’ and ‘unknown’ here in Ireland. Mike Milotte’s book ‘Banished Babies’ suggests that at least 2,400 children were adopted in the period from early 1940’s to early 1970’s. These children are now adults predominantly in their 50’s and 60’s and their mothers are elderly. We know that many have been searching for their Irish families and likewise many Irish families have been searching for their lost children.

The stories of the adoptions are invariably linked with unplanned pregnancies and the very limited options open to young womenin Ireland at the time. Unplanned pregnancy can still be a major shock but, historically, it was greeted as a great trauma with very limited and stark options open to the single woman who found herself pregnant. If marriage was not a possibility or wanted, the ‘situation’ necessitated a solution that would deal with the sin, shame and secrecy associated with her ‘condition’. The fathers were kept largely invisible by a society who saw a role for a father only if marriage was an option.

It was as a

Original post: Family Therapy Association of Ireland