From my friend Toritto:
PLEASE READ: 800 Babies in a Mass Grave – a Re-Post/Update
It’s Friday and a good day to cry my eyes out… Lara/Trace
From my friend Toritto:
PLEASE READ: 800 Babies in a Mass Grave – a Re-Post/Update
It’s Friday and a good day to cry my eyes out… Lara/Trace
Calls for an audit of all the files held by accredited adoption agencies and by the State, so that the full scale of illegal adoptions and birth registrations can be uncovered, have always fallen on deaf ears, writes Conall Ó Fátharta…
You really have to wonder how big a scandal needs to be before an Irish government decides to do the right thing and investigate the matter.
The latest revelations — that the Government was informed by the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) almost two years ago that there “may be thousands” of cases where people had their birth history falsified so they could be illegally adopted — poses a very simple question: Why was this not investigated?
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs was told by an AAI delegation in June 2013 — more than a year before the mother-and-baby home scandal — that there were “at least 120 [confirmed] cases” of illegal registrations. Not an insignificant number from the sample examined.
South Korea has been called the “Cadillac” of international adoption for its ethics and legality. Many reformists who criticize sending countries such as Guatemala and Cambodia maintain that if only those programs would be up to the gold standard of South Korea, the practice of international adoption would be fair, ethical, legal, in the best interests of the child, and dignified and respectful toward the birth family.
BOOK: A Child called It
One of the worst child abuse cases in California’s history came to an end on March 5, 1973 when Dave Pelzer entered foster care. Dave begins his incredible story as an abused child with his rescue in part one of a series, A Child Called “It”. Calling this book a “page turner” doesn’t give it justice. Easy to read, but difficult to comprehend how any mother could treat her child this way…
By Sandra Ami
If you didn’t believe before that your children can be taken on false allegations; if you didn’t believe before that many parents did nothing wrong to have their children taken and put into foster homes, where they are brutally abused and sometimes killed, or put up for adoption all to boost Federal and Non-profit Grants, you might now believe.
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.
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.
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
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.
Grim conditions inside the homes, where thousands of ostracized young women were sent after they became pregnant, remained largely secret until a couple of decades ago. Finally, news about abuses, substandard medical care and forced adoptions began to attract mainstream attention, buoyed by books and films such as “The Magdalene Sisters” in 2002 and “Philomena” in 2013.
The number of people who have asked to include their information on Ireland’s National Adoption Contact Preference Register, a database that helps adoptees and their birth parents find each other, has jumped, according to government records. In 2012, 542 people asked to join the register, a number that increased to 721 in 2013. By last September, 628 more people had asked to be placed in the register, records show.
PRESIDENT Higgins was completely right to highlight the outrage that is the denial of birth records to adopted people at the launch of his Ethics Initiative this week.
The psychologists call what happens to adopted people who are denied their biological identity “genealogical bewilderment.” It is an act of appalling cruelty to expect any human being to float through life not knowing who they are and where they come from. It defies belief that any State could hold those records and deny them to their rightful owners.
As birth parents of children born mid-century die in droves, closing forever the possibility of a reunion, the State sits on its hands, but tells adopted people its hands are tied behind its back.
Sorry, said Minister Frances Fitzgerald in the Dáil last week. It can’t be done. New tracing and information legislation is forthcoming, but as to having a right to know who you are, the Supreme Court has ruled that a birth mother has a Constitutional right to privacy.
Why would such a right ever be invoked except that having a baby outside marriage meant shame? Because we got it wrong and foisted shame on an innocent woman we are determined to foist shame on her innocent child.
Sorry, we say. You don’t have a right to know who you are. That stuff in the Constitution about cherishing all our children equally? It doesn’t apply to you. You’re illegitimate although there is no longer such a thing as illegitimacy.
By refusing to change our laws, and perhaps our Constitution, to end the misery of some adopted people, we are perpetuating the social norms of the past. These norms were so all-pervasive that — as Conall Ó Fátharta reported in this newspaper on Tuesday — 97 per cent of babies born outside marriage in 1967 were put up for adoption and the figures between 1962 and 1974 never fell below 60 per cent.
The few women desperate enough to keep their babies sometimes went through scenes out of Les Misérables. In one of the schools I attended, a teacher kept the fact that she had a baby entirely secret and we only found out decades later.
Continuing the secrecy continues the shame and continues the cruelty. And we don’t have to — our neighbours in the UK sorted it all out 40 years ago. Adopted people in the UK get their birth records when they’re 18. Some of them probably wish they’d received different records. But I doubt any adopted person who goes looking for his or her birth identity is sorry they did so. So what are we waiting for? For all the birth parents to die? Or for all the people adopted during the period of mass adoption to die too?
But that won’t do the trick. Because even as the State is feeling the heat about the right of adopted people to their biological identities, it is denying that right to hundreds and probably thousands of other people. New laws to clarify the position of children born through surrogacy and the donation of genetic material, being proposed by Justice Minister Alan Shatter, will not give people conceived from donor eggs or sperm the right know their genetic identity.
This is every bit as damaging as that which has been done to adopted people. And it is much more cruel, because though it is arguable that in the past the State and the authorities didn’t know the impact that forced, secret adoption would have on children, that is no longer the case. Modern psychology teaches us that most people need to know their biological identity.
In her letter to this newspaper on Tuesday, Margaret O’Callaghan took me to task for supporting same-sex marriage because of her concern for children born “via sperm banks and surrogacy”.
There is no natural connection between the two issues. Gay couples are not the only couples who are infertile. For the record, I am against the conception of any children via donated genetic material.
The point is that the children are here now and the Minister is right to seek to clarify their position in law. But he is wrong to overlook their need to their genetic identity.
Other countries have legislated for this need. The law changed in the UK in 2004 and babies conceived in this way from 2005 will have a right to know their full genetic identity when they are 18, in 2023.
When this right was granted in Sweden in 1984 the number of donors fell, but then rose again to the same level. Other countries which grant this right include Austria, New Zealand, Switzerland and the state of Victoria, Australia.
We could do so too, and the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction which reported in 2005, said we should. We could tackle the fact that egg and sperm donation is an international industry by limiting Irish clinics to using genetic material from countries which ban anonymity.
But in our fury to provide infertile couples — including gay couples — the “right” to a child “of their own” we seem willing to repeat the mistakes of the past. At that time we had the excuse that we thought we were acting in the child’s best interests because of society’s disapproval of birth outside marriage.
Nowadays we know that a child needs a biological identity — but we are prepared to ignore it in our rush to provide a baby for everyone in the audience.
MINISTER Shatter has made a positive move in his Children and Family Relationships Bill in attempting to outlaw the commercialisation of surrogacy and the donation of genetic material.
This may not mean that much in practice, however, because except in the few cases of a family member acting as surrogate, an unknown woman would not go through pregnancy for “reasonable expenses”. The truth is that those expenses may seem “reasonable” to us, but may be a king’s ransom to a woman in the developing world.
As Caroline and Niall O’Flaherty detail in their recent book, they paid their Indian surrogate over the odds, at $100 a month and for that she had to stay in a “surrogate house” presided over by a figure called “Auntie” while her mother looked after her own children. She went through the perils of pregnancy and birth and must be left with indelible marks on her body of the white baby taken away after birth.
The O’Flahertys are not responsible for global economic inequality. But it just isn’t right.
Baby Ava O’Flaherty has somewhere in her memory her surrogate mother’s smell and the sound of her heart beat. But genetically, she is an O’Flaherty, heiress to two rich family stories.
Let’s think of those less fortunate who only have half their own story and the ones who have no story at all. Let’s hand them every last shred of information we have about them. And for the sake of babies conceived from donor eggs and sperm, let’s understand, once and for all, that they have an absolute right to know who they are.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved
As the PSNI launch a new probe into child sexual exploitation in Northern Ireland, Jacqui Montgomery Devlin from Barnardo’s’ Safe Choices tells Lucy Gollogly that victims often feel anger, frustration, shame and mistrust
One young girl who had suffered child sexual exploitation described her experience as “a very small thumbnail surrounded by darkness”.
She is just one of the children that Jacqui Montgomery Devlin from Barnardo’s Safe Choices service tries to protect from exploitation.
She said: “One of the younger children we worked with described how she felt when this was happening to her. “She described it as a very small thumbnail surrounded by darkness and that’s what she drew – because often these children can’t verbalise how they are feeling or what is happening to them. “I thought it was quite significant and poignant – she felt surrounded by darkness, blackness, and had a sense of powerlessness.”
The majority of young people Safe Choices work with are aged between 12 and 16, although some are just nine or 10.
Most are girls, although Ms Montgomery Devlin said she believed boys were also being targeted.
She said victims often feel anger, frustration, shame and mistrust, especially as they frequently and mistakenly believe they were to blame in some way.
“They feel that because they went to this party or took the drugs and alcohol off this person or they sent these images that they are to blame – so they have a lot of shame and it makes it very difficult for them to talk initially.” Ms Montgomery Devlin said child sexual exploitation remained a “hidden problem” and something that all agencies working with young people need to be actively looking for.
“We would talk about lifting the stone and looking underneath and you have to do that proactively to see it and really grasp the scale and nature of the problem,” she said.
A major police investigation into the issue is currently under way, something that Ms Montgomery Devlin welcomed. Officers are investigating reports that 22 teenagers, who went missing from children’s homes, were sexually exploited. There have already been more than 30 arrests.
“It’s good that everybody is recognizing that it is an issue in Northern Ireland. I don’t think any agency is denying any responsibility now. They are all coming on board – they see something needs to be done,” she said.
Two years ago, a Barnardo’s report called Not A World Away found two-thirds of girls in care homes were at risk. It made a number of recommendations, including that tackling child sexual exploitation be made a priority in the PSNI’s Policing Plan.
That did not happen and there has been criticism from some quarters that action has been slow in coming – the chair of the Stormont health committee, Maeve McLaughlin, last week said of the current investigation: “We need to have been doing all of this much, much better, much, much earlier.”
The Sinn Fein MLA added: “There are lessons for the PSNI, lessons for the minister for justice and certainly for the community at large.” There have been suggestions that paramilitaries are involved in child sexual exploitation.
Ms Montgomery Devlin said it was difficult to confirm this, but that the perception could be as damaging as the reality. “Perpetrators of this abuse will use real power or perceived power to groom, threaten and coerce their victims. “They might have said to a young person, I’m such and such in whatever paramilitary group – whether they are or not might be irrelevant if that is sufficient to make that young person scared and coerce them into continuing whatever they are being coerced into doing.”
Meanwhile, the charity Voice of Young People in Care (VOYPIC) has appealed for an end to the squabbling among politicians over the child exploitation issue.
Chief executive Vivian McConvey said: “We need the energy around that debate maintained but focused on the young people and focused in making the systems work.” “I take heart from the fact that a conversation has now started so that we can better understand child sexual exploitation. That conversation has to continue and we have to bring about change so that we identify young people at risk faster and we’re more effective in supporting them,” she added.
• If you need help or support or you are concerned that a young person is being sexually exploited, call Barnardo’s on 02890 658 511 or the NSPCC helpline on 0800 389 1701.
• You can also report the matter to the PSNI directly on 0845 600 8000 and you will be put in contact with a specially trained police officer who will speak to you confidentially.
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