A TV documentary by RTÉ takes a look into the heartbreaking world of ‘Ireland’s lost babies’ of the 1950s and 1960s.
The ‘lost babies’ were babies that were taken from young Irish mothers who had been deemed unsuitable to take care of their children by the Catholic Church.
These would often have been teenage mothers who had given birth to children out of wedlock. They were known at the time as ‘fallen women’.
These children have now grown up and their mothers would be approaching old age themselves. Many of the mothers and children have spent their whole lives searching for each other.
The story of one mother was made into the 2013 Oscar nominated film Philomena which starred Steve Coogan as author Martin Sixsmith and Judi Dench as Philomena.
Now the real Martin Sixsmith has produced a documentary in which he speaks to mothers who had their babies taken away from them in the 50s and 60s.
Sixsmith says: “Philomena’s story is just the tip of an iceberg. In Ireland, thousands of so-called illegitimate children were taken from their mothers and sent off for adoption.”
Many of the children were sent thousands of miles away to countries such as the US or Australia.
Another aspect of the story is that when the children grew up and tried to find their birth mothers they often found that the Catholic Church had little interest in helping them.
The mothers of the children have found it equally hard to find the babies that were taken from them.
In this documentary Sixsmith speaks to a number of mothers and children who fell victim to this ‘scandal that has affected so many lives’.
One woman who is now middle-aged and speaks with an American accent said: “I finally found the truth, that I was never unwanted – that I was never abandoned.”
The programme reveals that while in Ireland, the Church had deemed that a mother who had a child out of wedlock was not suitable to be a parent, they did little background checks on the adoptive parents in America.
Many of the American parents had been turned down as unsuitable in the US system, which was why they had come to the Irish nuns.
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