herald

Wednesday 18 July 2018

'I hope we've inspired others' - mum in illegal adoption case

Tressa Donnelly Reeves and her son, Paddy Farrell (also known as Andre Donnelly)
Tressa Donnelly Reeves and her son, Paddy Farrell (also known as Andre Donnelly)

The mother and son at the centre of a court action over his illegal adoption 57 years ago hope their case will prompt others in similar situations to act.

Standing outside the Four Courts, Tressa Reeves said: "I sincerely hope the outcome of this case will have encouraged other people in similar situations to act as I did.

"Hopefully, the authorities will support and assist them".

Following a four-day hearing, the court was told the parties had reached an agreement.

Mrs Reeves, nee Donnelly, and her son Patrick Farrell, aka Andre Donnelly, had sued the State and St Patrick's Guild (Incorporated) adoption society which was run by the Sisters of Charity Nuns

It arose out of his illegal adoption after she gave birth to him in a Dublin clinic on March 13, 1961.

Days later, he was placed with a family in Co Carlow and given the name Patrick Farrell by the now deceased couple, Jim and Maeve Farrell.

Mrs Reeves spent decades looking for her son before they were reunited in 2013. He did not know he was adopted until 2012.

Harrowing

Mrs Reeves, now living in Cornwall in England, claimed that she was given the "brush off" by St Patrick's Guild and other others in authority when she tried to make contact with him.

Mrs Reeves's solicitor, Neil Donnelly, said it had been "a long and harrowing" process". for Mrs Reeves, who had given her son the exotic name of Andre "in the hope it would make it easier to find him in the years to follow".

She wrote innumerable letters in the 1970s and began in earnest to search for him for information about his well being, welfare and whereabouts.

"Over the following four decades, she encountered road blocks and obstacles which would have made most people give up, but she refused to give up and take no for an answer."

When they were reunited they formed "an immediate, strong and close bond".

Mrs Reeves said that when her search began, man had not even landed on the Moon.

She said that while there had been many changes, owing to advances in technology, "things haven't changed for the men and women and children affected by illegal adoption, some of whom don't even know their own identity".

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