herald

Monday 23 October 2017

TD gave her baby for adoption after date rape in teens

GOVERNMENT TD Anne Ferris has bravely spoken of how she became pregnant after being date raped when she was a teenager.

The Bray-based Labour representative gave the child up for adoption after her parents decided she wasn't old enough to raise the baby girl.

She spoke of how after her initial bitterness at having to give her daughter away, she later came to believe that it was the right thing to do.

Ms Ferris was speaking out about rights for adoptive children to information about their parentage, and the rights of birth families to contact with children who are to be adopted, revealing her own joy when she was reunited with her daughter years later.

Pregnant

The Wicklow TD (59) - who was adopted herself - said she became pregnant in the early 1970s at the age of 16.

"It was what we'd call these days a date rape," Mr Ferris explained, adding: "I don't really want to go into that." She said she initially thought she'd be able to keep the baby.

However, she said her parents thought she'd be too immature.

"They thought I wasn't old enough, and they were an elderly couple, they weren't able to rear another child.

"So they took the decision that my baby would be put up for adoption, it wasn't my choice.

"I was very bitter about it. On reflection though, when I was into my early 20s, looking back at the age I was, I thought they made the right decision for me."

But Ms Ferris said she registered her name so that if the child ever came looking for her she'd have her name and address.

Ms Ferris said that her daughter was in her early 20s when she sought to meet her.

"The Adoption Authority contacted me and told me that she was looking for me. They set up the arrangement."

Earlier this year Ms Ferris proposed the Open Adoption Bill which is working its way though the Dail and may be signed into law by Children's minister James Reilly next year.

"I know the minister at the moment is very close to the stage for legislation for information and tracing," Ms Ferris said.

"Everyone should have a right to their birth cert and any other identifying information about them," she added.

Register

"If a birth mother doesn't wish to be identified, then a non-contact register should be set up."

Describing being reunited with her daughter as "fantastic", Ms Ferris added: "It's an absolute wonderful emotional rollercoaster of a journey, when you meet the child you've given up for adoption.

She also conceded that "it doesn't work out" for some adopted children who meet their birth parents.

She herself discovered she was adopted at the age of 17 and described her shock at the news.

While she said she had loving adoptive parents and siblings, she told the Irish Daily Mirror "you have this yearning to know what your birth family were like".

hnews@herald.ie

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