In April 1965, I was born in St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home on the Navan Road in Dublin. Since then, I have always been astounded by the ‘knowledgeable’ opinions people espouse on my beginnings. As a fellow adoptee says, “The minute you see the head tilt, you brace yourself for what is to come.”
There is a spectrum of opinions that adoptees are used to. At one end, there are the kind and caring views, the ones who listen. Then there are those who think that if you were adopted, your beginnings and life are identical to all those who were adopted and try to convince you otherwise if you object. And then there is the other end of the spectrum, the ones which are judgemental and often, cruel. Surprise is constant as you can never predict who in your life will say what.
Being adopted is always public. Efforts to keep it private are futile. It is the inevitable response to questions like “Who in your family do you look like?”, “You’re the image of your mother/father/brother/sister/cousin/family pet,” “Is there a history of heart disease/diabetes/rabies in your family?”
And with origins so visible come comments, quips and judgements. Here is an example of such:
A friend told me recently that my birth mother and others like her were so “lucky” to have the nuns to take them in when their parents threw them out.
The Catholic Church condemns these girls for committing a sin. Family throws them out. Church (which created the problem by judging these girls) now takes them in and, in many cases, brutalises many physically and mentally before, in many cases, capitalising on their unpaid labour. They seek to temporarily or permanently separate child from parent with no care for the long-term impact on the psychological health of either person.
“Lucky” is therefore not a word I’d use to describe such a situation.
And where were the unmarried fathers’ homes if sex before marriage and pre-marital pregnancy were such grave sins?!?