A TD has described the first time she set eyes on her sister after the two were separated as infants and adopted from different mother-and-baby homes into separate families.
In an emotional speech, Wicklow TD Anne Ferris described having a pot of tea for the first time with her sister only two weeks ago, after they had been separated their whole lives.
The Labour politician told the Dáil that she and her sister were lucky as they were both adopted into loving families but that not everyone born in a mother-and-baby home was that lucky.
“Two weeks ago, I met my younger sister for tea across the road in the Merrion Hotel. It was an unusual day, but not because neither of us had taken the time to have tea in the very posh Merrion Hotel. It was unusual because it was the first time we had ever shared a pot of tea. Before that day two weeks ago, I had never laid eyes on my sister.”
Ms Ferris said that she and her sister looked very alike, but added: “Where other sisters in our age group have shared experiences and a shared family history, we just have had a long gap in our lives. I never played childhood games with this sister. I never fought with her over toys. We never skipped together or climbed trees. She was not handed down my old clothes. We did not go to school together or to discos and nor did we fight over boys. She does not know my children and I have never met hers.”
Describing their mother, she said it was documented from the era that it was often the case that women who bore more than one baby in a mother-and-baby home frequently were obliged to serve time in a Magdalen laundry.
“Perhaps our mother managed to avoid such a sentence by not choosing the same home twice for her confinement,” she said.
But there was evidence that most women in her circumstances were made toil for years in a laundry, she added, and research had shown that many did not leave the laundries alive in Dublin in the year she was born. Ms Ferris continued: “My sister and I feel lucky. We were both adopted as babies into loving families but not everyone born in a mother-and-baby home was so lucky.”
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