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Government urged to widen mother and baby homes inquiry

Investigation needed to establish truth about forced adoptions in Ireland, conference hears
The Government should broaden the terms of reference for its commission of inquiry into mother and baby homes to include state maternity hospitals and their role in private adoptions, a conference on adoption has heard.

The Government should broaden the terms of reference for its commission of inquiry into mother and baby homes to include state maternity hospitals and their role in private adoptions, a conference on adoption has heard.

Barry Roche

First published: Sun, Sep 7, 2014, 14:47

The Government should broaden the terms of reference for its commission of inquiry into mother and baby homes to include state maternity hospitals and their role in private adoptions, a conference on adoption has heard.

Susan Lohan, Co-Founder of the Adoption Rights Alliance, said that the terms of reference outlined in the briefing document for the commission of inquiry suggested it was going to take the narrowest possible approach which would not provide a full and proper picture of forced adoptions in Ireland.

“We would like to see a full investigation into everything that happened in every institution, be it mother and baby home, county home or a state maternity hospital such as Holles Street in Dublin or the Erinville in Cork or elsewhere around the country.

“Some of these state maternity hospitals actually had separate wards for unmarried mothers, where social workers, particularly from the church run adoption agencies, had free rein to go in and procure children for adoption so we need to look at all of that,” she said.

Ms Lohan was speaking at conference entitled “Redefining Adoption in a New Era: Opportunities and Challenges for Adoption Law and Social Work Practice,” jointly hosted by the Faculty of Law and the School of Applied Social Studies at University College Cork.

The conference, which was organised by Dr Aisling Parkes of the Faculty of Law and Dr Simone McCaughren of the School of Applied Social Studies, also heard from Rhoda MacManus of Adoption Loss, a support group for parents who have lost children to adoption.

Ms MacManus told the conference, attended by over 150 people, that Adoption Loss was set up in 1998 by women who had all completed a Barnados course for parents preparing for a reunion with the child they had given up for adoption.

“We would contend that the best way for women who have lost children to adoption is for them to talk to other natural mothers, who have been through the experience and come out the other side, and that is why we set up the organisation,” she explained.

The Barnados course, which is held twice a year, gave each woman a chance to tell her story in sequence, perhaps starting with the relationship that they had with their child’s father, learning they were pregnant and who they told and how the issue of adoption was then raised with them.

“They can discuss whether adoption was something that was sprung on them and where they were when they were parted from their child and what has happened to them since - we’ve heard so many stories from so many women from many different backgrounds,” she said

Ms MacManus rejected the term ‘birth mother’ to describe a woman who had given up her child for adoption as she said it didn’t reflect their relationship with their child and they were much more comfortable with being described as ‘natural’ mothers.

“We contend that it is an insult and inaccurate for us to be considered birth mothers because it reduces us to a definition that the only important connection with our children is the few hours of their birth,” she said.

“We can say that the last thing our children want us to do when we meet them in the re-union is to describe the birth process, they don’t ask how many hours it lasted or anything like that - they want to know everything else except that so we reject that term ‘birth mothers’ and we want people to stop using it.”

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/government-urged-...

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