Adoption pain: ‘Beef is 100% traceable but I’m not’

AN Irish woman has opened up about the heartbreak of being coldly turned away by her birth mother and her battle to get her hands on her adoption file.

Forty-five years after her adoption, Grainne Mason says there is more traceability to beef in the supermarket than finding the origin of thousands of babies given up for adoption in Ireland in the second half of the 20th century.

A new TV3 documentary is set to detail the joy and sorrow behind some of the 50,000 adoptions which have taken place in Ireland since it became legal in 1952.

The mother-of-two said she has been battling her way through red tape for the last decade to get her hands on the adoption file.

“I had a bad day one day with the social worker and I remember picking up a tray of beef and telling my husband that beef is 100% traceable but I’m not,” she says.

“The social worker has asked what I will do with the file. I might wait six months to open it. I might burn it, but it is my file and it’s my right to know what’s in that file.”

In Adoption, the 45-year-old tells how the search for her birth mother fell a long way short of the fairytale ending she imagined.

“The letter I wrote to [my birth mother] came from the bottom of my heart,” she says.

“I said I loved her and she would be welcome with open arms because everybody in my family knows about her. Her letter back was very cold and very distant. She said there was nothing there for me and to go away.

“She said: ‘I don’t know you. I had you but I’m never going to be your mother and you’re never going to be my daughter.’

“I do believe she is living with the shame and there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of,” Grainne claims.

Her adoptive mother passed away in 1998 and her adoptive father died in 2004, two years after prompting his daughter to look for her biological parents.

Her biological mother did respond to a request to fill in the blanks in her medical history but the programme reveals how Grainne received a devastating letter telling her she didn’t want a reunion.

The letter revealed how her birth mother became pregnant at 15 after meeting an older man at a local dance.

She was sent to a mother and baby home in Navan where she gave birth to Grainne before being collected by her father shortly afterwards.

Grainne said she learned through her own investigations that her birth mother has two sons.

She said: “I know my mother doesn’t want me and I’m not going to knock on the door and expect to be sat down at the table.

“I would love for my two half-brothers to know I exist and they could make up their own minds if they wanted to know me,” she says. “I feel very awkward now that I know about them and they know about me.”

During the 1950s and 1960s, young mothers often signed a confidentiality agreement stating they would never go looking for their child and the child would never be able to find them.

Grainne discovered her confidentiality agreement was only verbal between her mother and a nun at the adoption agency.

She feels deeply upset at the way social services have treated her. “I am not confrontational. I will sit there and say nothing but I am so passionate about this,” she says.

“You’re trying to find answers and you’re getting every door slammed on you all the time and told you are the worst person in the world for wanting this.

“You can get very depressed sometimes.

“There is no confidentiality agreement in my case so there is no actual reason why I can’t be given the information from my file. That’s where we are at the moment.”

* Adoption airs on Wednesday, May 4, at 7.30pm on TV3


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