Council of Natural Mothers' Library
In this book, Irish reporter, Mike Milotte, sheds light on the dark secrets
of Ireland's post-World War II baby export business that flourished for
more than 30 years.
In a country whose people were victimized for centuries by the atrocious
laws of Protestant England, it is cruel irony that the government of the
Republic of Ireland collaborated with the Catholic Church to subject an
unmarried female segment of their population to an equally monstrous fate.
Judged 'as wicked sinners by the Church who ruled its people with an iron
fist, most women' pregnant outside marriage were condemned to be incarcerated
in religious-run (Sisters of Charity) "orphanages". These unfortunate,
vulnerable women had no options other than to turn to institutions such
as the infamous Magdalene Homes named after the converted prostitute of
the New Testament.
The superabundance of Irish illegitimate babies provided a happy hunting
ground for would-be adopters, in particular Americans. With no adoption
laws in Ireland and no laws to prohibit the removal of these children
from Ireland, combined with no restrictions on their entry to America,
Irish babies were in high demand. The possibility of "colour taint"
(a child with some Negro blood) in their own country made the bountiful
supply of fair-skinned babies even more attractive to Americans with their
grand homes and wealth.
A rapid-fire adoption evolved with very little screening of parents other
than the requisite proof of their Catholic faith. An adoption law which
passed in 1953 did curtail non-nationals from 'adopting Irish children
within Ireland' thus alleviating fears that the children of Catholic mothers
might fall into the hands of Northern Protestants. However, this new act
laid down no conditions to be met before or after 'the compulsory registration
of adoption organizations and societies, allowing continued baby trade
across the Atlantic.'
Scams in which American couples were not only buying 'babies from "orphanages",
but registering the births of these Irish children in their own names
were commonplace. By pretending that the child had been born to them,
the identities of the natural parents were completely obliterated, guaranteeing
complete anonymity. The requirement of an Irish passport was eliminated.
Despite the law breaking and
some public condemnation by several Church officials in America, the transatlantic
adoption traffic 'continued until the mid 1970s. The predominant view
that "any child in Ireland would be better off in the United States'
Blended with this sordid history
of how thousands of babies came to be exiled are personal stories of the
victimized mothers, now middle-aged women, and frustrated American adult
adoptees who have returned to Ireland in search of their roots. Vivid
details make this book a very interesting read.
(1997) Irish Books
& Media, Incorporated
New Island Books
The Canadian Council of Natural Mothers