A couple who gave their first child up for adoption almost three decades ago are dreaming of the perfect Christmas family reunion.
Bridget and Jimmy Dineen, from Skibbereen in West Cork, popped champagne corks yesterday after their son, John, won a competition that will help him pay for his flight home from Australia for Christmas.
Their first-born, Katherine, with whom they were reunited last year after giving her up for adoption in England in 1983, is also flying in to Cork for Christmas with her birth parents.
The couple are now praying that another daughter, Megan, who is working in Australia, can fly in for the festive season. If Megan can make it, it will be the first time ever that Bridget and Jimmy will have all six of their children together under the same roof.
“I’m so, so thrilled. I can’t stop smiling. I haven’t slept properly since I was told John had won,” an emotional Bridget said.
After giving Katherine up for adoption in 1983, they subsequently married, returned to live in Ireland, and had five more children, John, Megan, Anne, Denis and Kate.
Bridget said she had all but given up hope of hearing from Katherine again.
But when John emigrated to Sydney in April 2011, Bridget joined Facebook to keep in touch with her son.
Two days later, she got a private message on Facebook from a Ross Robinson in England who said he was making enquiries on behalf of his girlfriend.
He supplied certain names, addresses, and dates of birth, before it was confirmed that his girlfriend was Katherine.
“I was totally and utterly shocked,” Bridget said.
“I thought that if I hadn’t heard from her by the time she was 21, that I would never hear from her. We had all but given up hope.
“But I found out that Katherine, who was 28 last year, would type my name in to Facebook every so often, with no results.
“She had been watching a family reunion programme on BBC and just happened to type my name in two days after I joined it. So the ball was in my court now.”
Bridget and Jimmy met Katherine in England in June last year. Megan met her in London on her way to Australia. And the other children have met Katherine at various times since.
But the entire family has never been together at the same time.
Anne entered her brother John in a ‘fly me home for Christmas’ competition organised by Sean Murray Fashions in Skibbereen, and outlined her family’s remarkable story.
Mr Murray said the Dineens story touched many people. “I’m delighted that I’m able to help bring him home for Christmas.”
“It really is a dream come true for us,” Bridget said.
“The first dream to come through was Katherine finding me. This is the second dream come true.
“We are now doing our best to get Megan back from Adelaide,” she said.
The family will have another reason to celebrate this Christmas when Anne turns 21 on Dec 27.
Katherine is the assistant head of a primary school in Hertfordshire. John works in IT in Sydney, Megan is working on a fish farm on Kangaroo Island off Adelaide. Anne and Denis are studying in CIT, while Kate is in primary school.
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