herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Woman sues religious order for 'forcing her to give up baby'

A 68-YEAR-old woman is suing two religious orders and the HSE over the alleged forced adoption of her four-month-old baby 45 years ago.
A 68-YEAR-old woman is suing two religious orders and the HSE over the alleged forced adoption of her four-month-old baby 45 years ago.

A 68-YEAR-old woman is suing two religious orders and the HSE over the alleged forced adoption of her four-month-old baby 45 years ago.

She said that at the age of 21, in 1968, she was raped near Howth in Dublin, became pregnant, and was sent for pre- and post-natal care to St Patrick's mother and baby home on the Navan Road, Dublin, before giving birth in March 1969, the High Court heard.

At that time, she had been living and working in the Magdalene Laundry in Drumcondra, Dublin, having already spent most of her life in care.

From the age of six, she lived in institutions which each had "extremely harsh" environments. She said she was physically abused, went hungry, was frightened a lot of the time and had to work hard for no money in the institutions.

She was taken out of school in fifth class and sent to work in laundries, it was claimed.

Four months after the birth of her baby, in July 1969, the boy was taken away from her and given up for adoption.

Six months later, a nun in the Magdalene Laundry told her if she didn't sign the adoption papers she would be "put out on the street".

She was only allowed to see her baby in the St Patrick's nursery at feeding time and was not allowed to say goodbye to him, she says.

Chaotic

After the baby was adopted, she ran away from the laundry. She went on to marry and have six more children but following the unexpected death of her husband, her life became chaotic and there were spells when her children were taken into care.

In 2008 she discovered her adopted son had died tragically at the age of 35, the court heard.

She is suing the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul who she said managed the Navan Road home, and the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge who ran the Magdalene Laundry, along with the HSE.

She claims damages for suffering caused by the defendants' involvement in the taking of her first born son without any, or adequate, prior consultation and/or without fully informed consent. The defendants deny the claims.

The Daughters of Charity asked High Court president Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns to dismiss her claim over delay in bringing proceedings because witnesses and documents are no longer available for them to defend the case properly.

The Daughters also say they did not manage St Patrick's but this was done by predecessor to the HSE, the Eastern Health Board/Dublin Health Authority. The adoption was arranged through St Louise's Adoption Society which was under the control of the health authority and not them, they said.

Mr Justice Kearns said he will give his decision later.

hnews@herald.ie

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