I am providing the following information to be heard, and to hopefully be a voice for those who can’t be heard. I applaud Mari Steed, Kathy Finn, Susan Drew, Catherine Desay, Paul Redmond, David Kinsella, and so many more who everyday stand up and fight. Well this is my way of fighting.
I have lived with the conditons from the orphanage for my entire life, and yes I am doing well and have ben successful, but it does not take away what was done to me, to all of us. I would like to know why, who has this right to deny one their own life?
Five years of my life were taken from me, with no memories. People tell me to be thankful that I don’t remember. I am tired of being told how thankful or grateful I should be. I finally have a voice and though I can’t be there on the Dublin streets protesting, or in the courts with a microphone, I will use my voice in writing and I won’t stop. I will write novels, stories, essays, or anything I can to be heard, to tell our stories. I don’t want people to forget that we were there, that we and our mothers were treated worse than trash.
After waiting six months for my medical records, which really was more like over three decades I recieved them from TULSA. I am grateful that the social worker was able to find any information at all and I am not angry at her or their work. My anger goes back to 1949 when they couldn’t even put my mother’s legal name on her medical documents. They put a “fake” name. Who is to know that was her, or that she had me? As for me, my name is nowhere to be found on those documents.
Here is an idea of my timeline from my birth to the search of my birth family to present time.
1949 – Born in Castlepollard. Transferred to St. Patrick’s Orphange in Dublin.
1953 – Adopted out to the US, where I had rickets, malnutrition, intestional parasites, epilepsy, and I could neither walk or talk. This was the care provided to me from the Catholic nuns in the orphanage.
1959 – I was told my mother died at childbirth and I survived. There was no way to gain access to any records. I was lucky to be alive.
1985 – I learned my birth mother had not died, and I began my search by snail mail. I contacted the Joyce House, Dr. Barnados, Sr. Sarto and Sr. Gabriel Murphy. I begged for access to my medical records, not my mothers. but to learn why I was in the condition I was when I came to the states.
1989 – My mother was found to be alive. I received both of our birth certificates. I learned the anguish my mother must have gone through from letters I received from Sr. Sarto and Sr. Gabriel Murphy. A social worker through Dr. Barnados was very helpful, and I was always be grateful.
1990 – I went to Ireland but was told my mother would not see me. I was told by Sr. Sarto about my birth and that after being taken to St. Patrick’s Orphanage in Dublin, I was fostered out. No dates were given, nor were there reasons for my return. I was also told in 1953, I was unfit to leave the country, as it had been planned that I would be adopted and would live in Boston. I left a letter for Sr. Sarto to mail to my mother explaining who I was and why I was looking for her and that I would not betray her. I included pictures of myself and my family. I was also told that my mother had been sent to a convent in Dublin, I am assuming the Magdalene Laundries.
1991 – Severe grand mal seizures placed me in Stanford University. Both my psychologist and neurologist wrote to Sr. Sarto asking for medical information. They declined that she would be violating privacy laws. I lost another three years with the seizures.
1992 – I was told by both Sr. Gabriel Murphy and Sr. Sarto to please stop writing, and to get help through counseling to go on with my life. I was also told I had no right to my records, as they were private and should she show them to me she would be violating the law.
1993 – I ended up in 2 psych wards for a variety of reasons.
1994 – 2002 I stopped my search to reclaim my life.
2002 – I began searching again for my mother on-line.
2007 – My mother was found through a genealogy web-site that has now been removed.
2008 – I contracted the creator of the website. Arrangements were made that my daughter and I would go to Ireland to try to find her. I sent her a letter and enclosed pictures and dates that we would be there.
2008 – After 5 days of searching, she was contacted and in three days we met. She told me about her rape and her being sent to Castlepollard. She told me about the delivery and that she too left a letter for me in 1990, asking Sr. Sarto to forward it to me. Neither of us received any letters. She remembered my birthday and I was given a gift by her. I was not allowed in her house, nor was I allowed to meet or contact her children. I was given pictures of them and my grandmother. In Sept. she sent a text that she was in Rome. At Christmas 2008 I received a card from her. I text her every month and sent her cards, presents and letters up through 2016. She never responded.
2016 – I had my novel, The Swan Garden, published in Feb. 2008, by HBEPublishing. March 2008, I sent my mother a copy and a letter, telling her I would be returning to Ireland. May 2008, my publisher received a letter from her and asked that I contact her when I arrived in Dublin. June 2008 I arrived in Dublin, I spoke at the Sean Ross Abbey Remembrance. I called her and we met up at the Pearce Hotel. She met my family. It was delightful. I was asked once again not to contact her children or come to her house. Though it broke her heart I was to remain her secret. her children must never know I exist. SHe did tell me that she kept the copy of my novel under her husband’s pillow on their bed. He had passed away. My daughter and I visited the Garden of Angels at Castlepollard.
In the fall of 2016, I returned to Ireland to speak before the Commission and met with Prime Minister Katherine Zappone. My mother’s number had been disconnected. I could not reach her. I didn’t go to her house. In Sept. of 2016, with the help of a friend I applied to TULSA for my medical records May 2017, I received 5 pages. 1 was my mothers, the other 4 were mine, with one insert for each page.
I find pictures of my mother and her family on FB and I write letters to her in journals, so there is never a danger of hitting the send button.
In late fall I will be publishing my second novel, about the impact of secrets on families. You can imagine it is the story of the secret my mother will be taking to her grave. I don’t know her children but I can imagine in my heart what they would feel if they knew I existed because I think of them everyday and I know how I feel.