13,000 Files

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Philomena
[Philomena Lee and Jane Libberton at the launch of the Philomena Project in Dublin in January]

You’ll recall how Philomena, her daughter, Jane Libberton, and journalist Martin Sixsmith, launched the Philomena Project in Dublin last January.

The aim of the project is to help ensure every mother and child that wishes to be reunited can do so.

The Mail on Sunday reported yesterday [not online] that more than 13,000 files held by the Catholic adoption agency, St Patrick’s Guild, are to be handed over to the State by the end of December.

Alison O’Reilly wrote:

“More than 13,000 files held by a controversial Catholic-run adoption agency that has admitted organising illegal adoptions are to be handed over to the State in December. St Patrick’s Guild arranged thousands of adoptions between the 1940s and 1970s, including the secret export of 572 children to the US. It no longer arranges adoptions, although it still helps with search queries. But it has been criticised for stonewalling people who were adopted through it and who have spent decades trying to trace their birth families. The Child and Family Agency has now announced that the Guild will close at the end of the year.”

Mrs Lee was single and 18 when she was pregnant and sent to a Catholic residential home for unmarried mothers in Roscrea, County Tipperary. When her son was three, she was forced to give him up for adoption and her son was sent to the US. Even though they both searched for each other in subsequent years, he died before she ever saw him again.

The Philomena Project

Previously: Identities Withheld

(Mark Stedman/Photocall Irelan)