Illegal adoptions

If you’ve lived in Ireland in the past 25 years, you can hardly be unaware of various historical scandals that rocked the country. These included, but were not limited to, industrial school abuse, Magdalene laundries, Mother and Baby homes and illegal adoptions.

A couple of years ago, I helped a man called Denis O Sullivan, who was one of those in the latter category. He had wonderful parents and knew he was adopted from an early age. After his mother died in 2013, he began think about searching for his birth mother, but without any paperwork, it was a challenge. He took DNA tests knowing that this was a potential avenue, but needed help to navigate the results. I came on board towards the end of 2020 (having met his wife in my genealogy class!) and soon we were able to establish two families from which each of his parents came, but both had a large pool of possibilities. Some people were ruled out quickly by identifying first cousin and second cousin matches. We employed target testing and eventually came up trumps with a half-sibling in one of the families. This ruled the men out in the other family and we were down to just two women. One had children and a test of one of those children ruled her out. The other had allegedly never had any children, and sadly, had died not that long before. By process of elimination, we were able to say it was her. As a genetic genealogist, it’s enormously rewarding to be able to help someone in this process.

Denis has now written a book about his story and hopes that it might encourage other people to begin their own search. He has a conversational style which makes this an easy, rewarding read. If you are interested, you can get it on Amazon.

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