Ireland: Adoptee Rights NOW!

Guest Post by Mary Lawlor and Paul Redmond

by Michael Nugent on August 30, 2012

Mary Lawlor was given up for adoption in 1960. On the 12th of July this year, at fifty-two years of age, she learned that she has a brother. He was born on the 18th of July in 1963 and shipped to America in 1965. Mary is now trying to find him, and bring him into her life.

Paul Redmond is an adoptee born in Castlepollard, and he organizes an annual trip and tour of Castlepollard for fellow adoptees. He is a researcher and writer, and he and Mary campaign in Ireland for the rights of the adopted community.

Mary and Paul have been meeting with the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin about the question of church records of adoptees. They have also been lobbying politicians, and have launched a new website Adoption Rights Now and a new Facebook campaign page. They have written this guest post about the history of the Irish adoption industry, and the demands of Adoption Rights Now.

What if black people were not entitled to their birth certificates? What if gay people were not entitled to their medical records? What if people with special needs were eligible for testing with experimental drugs? What if babies from the Traveling community who died were surrendered for medical research and dissection for training purposes?

Are you shocked at such politically incorrect language and extreme right wing ideology? Don’t worry; just replace the words black, gay, special needs and traveler with ‘adopted’ and that’s perfectly acceptable for the 50,000 adoptees living in Ireland past and present.

50,000 people classified as second class citizens and ‘illegitimate’. 50,000 Irish citizens denied basic human and civil rights contrary to the Human Rights conventions of the European Union and the United Nations.

The history of the Irish Adoption Industry is the last dirty little secret of the darkest depths of the once fabled and glorified holy Catholic Ireland.You doubt that it was an industry? That it was a machine? Don’t.

Babies and little children were exported like livestock. They were rented out for drug experiments like poor defenceless lab rats. They were condemned to death by the willful withholding or denial of proper food, of medical treatment, of medical equipment from their terrified mothers, who far too often had already been the victims of rape or incest.

From 1948 to 1973, at least 2,132 babies and young children were effectively sold to rich American Catholics by Irish nuns. And this happened with the assistance of the then Minister for External Affairs, one Eamon De Valera, who illegally issued passports on the orders of Archbishop John McQuaid. This was nothing less than child trafficking on an industrial scale.

Experimental trials

From 1960 to 1973, in the three Sacred Heart-run Mother and Baby Homes, there were at least four trials of experimental and/or modified vaccines carried out by a state employed professor of medicine and a doctor working working on behalf of the Borris Wellcome Foundation, which is now a part of GlaxoSmithKline. These trials were carried out on control groups of babies who were as little as eighteen months old, and who had been held in Mother and Baby Homes instead of being adopted.

These monstrous trials were in direct contravention of the Irish Constitution, of the international CODEX guidelines and of the Hippocratic oath. For thirteen years the State, its religious orders and the Borris Wellcome Foundation conspired to turn between 200 and 300 babies and children into nothing more than human lab rats in the three Mother and Baby Homes and other institutions.

Amazingly, after these trials had been conducted, the conspirators just walked away. And heartbreakingly, those babies and children were then adopted without their new parents ever being informed of the trials those babies and children had been subjected to, and without any kind of monitoring or after-care.

Donation of bodies

Between 1940 and 1965, from the fourth major M&B Home, St. Patrick’s, and its sister hospital, St. Kevin’s in Dublin, the bodies of at least 460 dead babies were ‘donated’ for routine dissection practise by medical students and/or research, to all of the major medical teaching institutions in the State, including Trinity College, UCD Medical School and The College of Surgeons.

In both the cases of the vaccine trials and the ‘donation’ of bodies, consent was neither sought from nor granted by either the natural or adoptive parents involved. Nor was the truth of what happened to their children, while they lived or after they died, ever revealed to them.

High mortality rates

Most shocking and disturbing of all is the high mortality rate for the babies of single mothers both inside and outside the high walls of the adoption machine. It is in these horrific mortality figures that the influence and the consequences of the Church’s iron grip on Irish civil society can be most clearly seen.

Since 1922 the mortality rates for babies of single mothers has run considerably higher than the national average. In the years 1923 to 1929 inclusive, infant mortality rates for ‘illegitimate’ babies ran at about FIVE times the national average for ‘legitimate’ babies. In 1930, 60 of the 120 babies born in Sean Ross Abbey died. And during the 1930s, mortality rates ran at approximately FOUR times the national average.

By 1948, John Cunningham, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UCD, stated that the annual national infant mortality rates were 47 per 1000 babies born within marriage (4.7%), and 147 babies born outside marriage (14.7%), over THREE times higher. Interestingly, he also stated that this was not a problem.

In the three Sacred Heart run M&B Homes, there are so-called ‘ Angel Plots ‘ which contain the bodies of between 3,000 and 4,000 babies buried without birth certificates, death certificates, baptisms, names, or even the most simple dignity of a coffin. These are unmarked or barely marked graves.

Political reaction

Fianna Fail did nothing in all of their years in power during the Celtic Tiger to even attempt to correct this massive injustice which their founder, Eamon De Valera, helped inflict on tens of thousands of innocent Irish citizens.

During their long, long spell in opposition, the now Ministers Francis Fitzgerald and Alan Shatter promised the sun, the moon and the stars to the adopted community, but have completely failed to act on, let alone deliver on, their many promises since assuming office.

Adoption Rights Now!

As adopted people, we have little or no rights. We are determined to change that. For us, for Mary’s brother, and for the souls of each little baby in those unmarked graves. And we are asking you, the person reading this, to help us change this terrible situation. We, just like you, just like everyone else, have the right to know who we are and where we come from.

Please step forward and help us, and 52,000 others like us. We need volunteers who will help us to break free from this prison we have been trapped in, simply by the circumstances of our birth.

We are demanding

  1. That all adoption records are opened immediately in line with international best practice.
  2. A full public inquiry into the vicious treatment of mothers and children, and the consequent high mortality rates, in Government and Catholic run institutions in Ireland since the foundation of the state in 1922.
  3. The granting of minority status to all adoptees.
  4. All Angels Plots in former Mother & Baby homes and Magdalene Laundries to handed over to a trust committee of adoptees and natural mothers.

How can you help? You can contact your local and national politicians, and members of the Catholic clergy, and tell them about our rights and our demands. You can write to the newspapers, ring up radio stations. You can share links to this article on the Internet.

You can join our Facebook campaign page.

You can also help us to get signatures for our petition seeking immediate action by the Irish Government and the Catholic church.

For more details, check our website Adoption Rights Now! or email marylawlor87 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

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