(excerpt) Some of the children – the cute ones, says Ms. Corless – were adopted at a price in North America, often without their mothers’ consent. John P. Rodgers, a survivor of St. Mary’s and an author who wrote a memoir about his experience, For the Love of My Mother, now being developed as a Hollywood film script, believes that the available photographs of the home were part of a marketing ploy. “These beautiful photographs of nuns in religious garb taking care of the children with chubby cheeks, white ankle socks and shoes, neat dress, it’s a real film shot. I realized that was a staged photograph,” he says in an interview.
The nuns would send letters to families describing little girls and boys they had available. “One report of an Irish health department in 2012 suggested that perhaps 1,000 children were trafficked from the Tuam institution alone,” Prof. Smith says.
A harrowing discovery in Ireland casts light on the Catholic Church’s history of abusing unwed mothers and their babies – and emboldened survivors to demand accountability…
But the reality was horrific. They were homes of abuse and neglect; places of forced confinement for the mothers and where babies were allowed to die – murdered, in effect. Kevin Higgins, a lawyer familiar with the issue, says the deaths were “at least manslaughter.” One Irish newspaper has called the scandal “our little Holocaust.”
The reason for the homes was simple and rarely questioned at the time. The mothers were unwed; their children often called “devil’s spawn.” Set up by the government and run by Catholic religious orders, the mother and baby homes were part of a system to deal with the perceived shame of “illegitimate” children and the women who bore them. …The rest, 796 infants and toddlers, she believed, were in a mass grave in an area of low-cost housing, built on the former grounds of St. Mary’s by Galway County Council.
*** Has this scandal gone Global?
Many Canadians are unaware that in the immediate postwar decades, federal and provincial governments funded “Homes for Unwed Mothers” in every Canadian province. Over 300,000 unmarried mothers were systematically separated from their babies during this period. Mothers report verbal, physical, psychological, and sexual abuse in these homes, and the Canadian government has so far done nothing to acknowledge these wrongs. Origins Canada advocates for a Committee to Investigate such as the one held in Australia to uncover the illegal, unethical and human rights abuses in adoption policies and practices in both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous contexts. This type of inquiry may serve to validate the lifelong psychological and intergenerational damage to families by draconian adoption policies and practices, and to provide mental health and healing services to those denied them so many years ago. – Valerie Andrews, Executive Director Origins Canada: Supporting Those Separated by Adoption
******** DECLINING International Adoptions
Americans adopted around 5,370 children from other countries in fiscal year 2016. For the first time, males outnumbered females among adoptees from abroad.
The $800-million proposed agreement with Sixties Scoop survivors that was announced by the Canadian government isn’t the first aiming to compensate Indigenous people for historical wrongs. (Top photo)
And I thought I’d share some of my own experience being an adoptee.
Stop a moment. Who are you?
Stop and think about… Have you ever considered that an adoptee doesn’t know who they are …?
Placed as a baby, decisions were made for me and my life in a Wisconsin courtroom in 1957. At age 22, in 1978, I went back to that courtroom and found a judge who luckily remembered my adoption and I asked for his help.
Many still do not appreciate or know how difficult it is to find out (WHO YOU ARE) after a sealed closed adoption. Those who don’t experience being adopted have little comparison, comprehension or compassion for its complexities, or what life is like in legal limbo.
I’m a Split Feather, a Lost Bird, an adoptee with Native American ancestry. I know this because I opened my adoption. I wanted to know my name, and why my parents gave me up, or had they abandoned me.
I wanted the truth, good, bad, both. I wanted what you what – ancestors, names, places.
Truly it was like being trapped in two worlds… (After my memoir came we did Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects) – now living with two sets of parents and two last names; life gets fuzzy between truth and fiction. As a young adult adoptee, it was pure nonsense having to accept “this was done in your best interest.” Clearly that wasn’t enough information to build a life on. I needed more. I needed my own medical information, I told the kind judge.
To get to the truth was all uphill. Years of uphill. Laws made it illegal for me to look or know my own name. (How strange and confusing all this was.)
The tragedy was I felt like a lost-and-found item in a department store. Unclaimed, some strangers came in, spotted me and said “I’ll take that one.” As their child, I became invisible, unidentifiable, and perfectly suited to blend in with all the other Americans. (But I didn’t ask for this.)
The agency Catholic Charities handled me (the newborn) and sealed my fate. My identity and my mother’s identity would remain a secret, papal leaders decreed. (It’s still happening – records are legally changed and locked up!)
It would take years before I could rightfully claim my identity and know what happened that I happened.
Because adoption records were locked by Wisconsin law, my decision to know who I am involved risk. Not only would this test my courage, it could get me locked up.
It also meant I’d face the fear of my birthmother rejecting me a second time.
My memoir One Small Sacrifice tells the entire story of how I went from one of the Stolen Generations to now, today… (I was using my adoptee name when I wrote it in 2004. I legally changed my name in 2015 to Trace Lara Hentz. More INFO)
As for any settlement, the USA has not issued an apology or any settlement for the Indian Adoption Projects or ARENA (a program that moved children from Canada to the US and vice versa.) I helped to write and publish a book series so one day, some day, we will have this history to use in the courts.
************************************** AND ONE MORE THING