Irish comedian Dara O’Briain has revealed that he was adopted and decided to find his birth mother, who told him she had had no choice but to give him up.
Sadly, this story was all too common for young women of that era.
O’Briain also explained how he felt that the process was ‘unnecessarily hard’.
The star told the Irish Times Winter Nights Festival that he had been adopted at an early age by supportive parents who had given him a happy childhood.
O’Briain said: “I talked to my birth mother about it today, and I said, ‘Look, did you want this?’ and she said, ‘There was no choice in this.’
“The whole thing was built on shame and expediency and a feeling of, just get this done.”
He said that his parents hadn’t kept his adoption a secret from him but that it was something he was aware of but was never discussed.
He added: “Being adopted is a state of knowing you’re adopted, then it not being mentioned for ages,” he explained. “And then at a point in later life going, ‘Hang on, am I adopted?’
“I remember my father coming to London for lunch, and we had one of those conversations where you just clear the decks on everything. I told him, ‘I seem to remember knowing this’, and he said, ‘Yeah, but it’s not a secret. I quit telling you because, you know, why would you keep saying it?’
O’Briain was inspired to track down his birth mother after watching the movie Philomena, starring Dame Judy Dench and Steve Coogan.
He said: “Maybe [my birth mother] might want to know how it turned out.
“And maybe it’s our responsibility to go, ‘That worked out … I did end up in a stable home, and you should be grand about that’.”
O’Briain found the process to be very difficult due to the priorities in Irish law. The law states that the privacy of a mother override the rights of a child trying to find their birth parents.
He said that the bureaucracy involved was unnecessarily hard, with pages of his adoption files being redacted.
He said: “The search is unnecessarily hard. Start-of-life documentation, which concerns their lives – adopted people do not have the right yet to automatically get that.
“The authorities are bound by the fact that they have the information that you don’t have about you. And so you send them a request for the information, but there’s also a register you go onto. The idea was set up a register so that those seeking and on either side could possibly find each other. I have never heard of that working.”
“They give you a sheet of information, and it has biographical detail of your father, and it’s invented. It has no bearing on reality at all.
It is difficult for adopted children to find their birth certificates due to the privacy laws. However, O’Briain was eventually able to find his.
He said: “I wanted to find a quiet moment to open this document. I remember finding it and reading it for the first time. It’s an elemental piece of paper. It’s a huge document to get in your hand.
“I wasn’t crying or anything like that, but it was still… that this other person is me.”
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