CORK-based Maura Brosnan is excited about being published in a book entitled A Page in my Life, the proceeds of which go to the Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice.
When RTÉ broadcaster Ray D’Arcy invited listeners to his radio show to send in 500 words about their story or an aspect of their lives, Maura rose to the challenge and wrote about being adopted.
The mum-of-five children, ranging in age from nine to 25, works as an administrator for the public service. Despite being very busy, the Dunmanway woman has always been writing.
“I had a wonderful English teacher at school. I loved her classes and she taught us the importance of reading and using it to widen our vocabulary and how crucial the conclusion of an essay is.
“I’m not sure what she would think of my piece for the book as it’s open-ended. That was intentional. Ray asked us to leave our audience gasping for more.”
Maura clearly hit the right note as her entry was one of over 2,500 from which 150 stories were published. The judges were acclaimed writers Eoin Colfer, Donal Ryan, Emilie Pine and Emer Lysaght.
Maura rarely writes fiction, opting instead to write about life events.
“The beauty of putting your thoughts, feelings or experiences down on paper is that they bring clarity and closure when you may not be able to find it. It helps hugely to look back on pieces you write, sometimes many years after you’ve written it, to remember how you felt at a certain time. It can be quite healing.
“I wrote a piece a number of years ago, anonymously for the Sunday Independent that was published. It was about the death of my beloved brother. I still often read it.”
Maura says it’s comforting for her brother’s widow and family.
Her adoption story is a happy one.
“It was always an open conversation in our home. I was six when my dad told me. I’m not sure I quite understood. My dad brought me for a spin in our red Escort and told me he and mum went to the hospital and picked out the most beautiful baby girl there. Obviously, that’s not what happened but to my six year old ears, it sounded fairy-tale like.
“I actually chose to believe I came to be their daughter in that way for many years. Being adopted was not an issue for me, ever. Ireland was a very different country in the ’60s and ’70s. Adopted children were often regarded as lesser beings as the beginnings of their lives were surrounded in undeserved shame. To be honest, I never experienced any prejudice like that.
“I grew up in Castle Street, Dunmanway. In the 1980s, there were 56 children on our street and my brother and I never felt in any way different to any other child.”
However, Maura says that after her father’s death, she learned that her adoptive parents “suffered rejection and prejudice for ‘taking in another man’s child’.”
Maura and her brother were protected by their parents from such judgement.
“But it makes me sad still that they suffered in that way.”
Thanks to her parents, Maura got to meet her birth mother.
“In late 2004, my mum and dad received a letter from the HSE stating that they had information regarding the circumstances of my birth that they wished to share with me. My birth mother had begun the process of tracing me. I was 29 at the time. I was shocked, nervous and excited, all at the same time. I don’t think I slept for a week.”
Over the years, Maura had wondered about her birth mother “but I can’t say I had any crisis of identity that other adopted children have. However, I knew immediately that I wanted to meet her. I didn’t realise until then that I had so many questions.”
But Maura’s first priority was her parents and brother. She wanted to protect them.
“I knew mum would be relaxed and encouraging but I worried about my dad. Every day, he would say to me, ‘I don’t love you at all, I adore you’. He was an incredible person and if this was in any way going to hurt him, then I wasn’t going to go through with it. We had a conversation the night before I met my birth mother.”
Maura’s dad, who died in 2009, gave her his blessing and “a gentle instruction to do the right thing. It is a conversation I will never forget, hence my piece for the book.”
In February, 2005, Maura met her birth mother.
“For 29 years, I had never met another living adult that was part of me. Those first few minutes we shared will stay with me for the rest of my life. I know now our paths were meant to cross. At the time, I lived in Cork city. I have no doubt we passed each other on the street, not knowing we were mother and daughter.
“When I met my four sisters soon after, it was a night I will never forget.
“I am the image of the sister who is nearest to me in age. Also, I met my grandmother. It’s hugely exciting for me to discover my grandmother at the age of 45.
“My birth mother welcomed me into her family 15 years ago and she has been a part of mine ever since. In that regard I am truly blessed.”
Maura’s dream is to write a book but “time is often the enemy. I am mindful of protecting my family’s privacy, so we will see.”
She is thrilled to be part of the book.
“I am honoured to do my best to raise funds for this very worthy and essential cause.”