THE deputy County Mayor has made an impassioned plea for the Minister for Children to make specialist counselling available to people affected by the illegal adoption scandal.
Mary Linehan Foley, an Independent county councillor for the East Cork district, was born in the Bessborough mother and baby home and was later adopted as a child in the 1960s. She became Deputy Mayor of Cork County last month.
The Minister, Katherine Zappone, is in the process of contacting 126 people whose illegal adoptions were uncovered in the records of the St Patrick’s Guild adoption society between 1946 and 1969 by the child and family agency, Tusla. It is estimated that many thousands more people in the State may be affected by historic illegal adoptions.
Ms Linehan Foley said she has always known she was adopted and has proclaimed herself “one of the lucky ones”.
However, she said the trauma afflicted on people following an official State communication notifying them they were illegally adopted means specialist counselling services must be offered immediately.
“I was one of the lucky ones in that sense. I have had a good life and everything went okay for me,” she said.
“An awful lot of people are not so lucky. In the last three or four weeks, a lot of people have found out that the people who they thought were their biological parents are not at all — they were illegally adopted.
“It is a very traumatic situation for somebody to find out in their thirties, forties or fifties that they are adopted.
“I grew up knowing I was adopted so it never made a massive difference to me. I can’t imagine the pain that people are going through.
“I am asking the Minister to put in place a counselling service because this is head-wrecking stuff that is going on.
“It has hit me and I really feel these people need to be helped and the Minister is the person that can do this,” she added.
The councillor has been commended for her bravery by fellow elected members who outlined their own personal experience of the scandal.
Cllr Anthony Barry (FG) said a friend of his found themselves in the situation.
“While they were very lucky and had a fantastic family they feel like they have a void in their life and there is information that they need to know — very personal information about maybe health checks and family history.
“It’s just wrong, fundamentally to the core, that no records could be kept,” he said.