Cathy And Johanna


cathy and Johanna

Cathy Deasy reunited with her birth mother Johanna Sheehy


You my have seen  this week’s BBC Two documentary ‘Ireland’s Lost Babies’ which featured the search by Cathy Deasy to find her biological mother Johanna Sheehy.

At 43, Johanna fell in love with the son of the owner of a farm where she worked. When she became pregnant with Cathy she was sent to the Mother and Child home run by the Sacred Heart sisters in Bessbororough, Co Cork.

Cathy lived for 4 years in an adjoining nursery section, rarely seen by her mother, before she was sent to America.

When they were reunited 40 years later Johanna showed Cathy a locket she constantly wore containing a photo of Cathy as an infant.

She told her daughter: “You’ve found the black sheep of the family.”


Cathy Deasy writes:

“It took me 18 years to find my birth mother  who gave birth to me at the age of 43 and it was very sad for the emotional/physical abuse she endured during her lock up for 40 years. And before I die it is my mission to see justice for all the other moms and children (now adults) for all the abuse both moms and children endured at the Mother and Baby homes by both nuns and priests.

Not only did my mom go through so many years of heartbreak some time after I was born she was caught putting little booties on me. She not only heard the wrath of the nuns running the facility she was moved to Good Shepard Home, another hell-hole to stay until finally in 1976, with a lot of Irish fuss by my cousins and family, they got her out of that institution and moved into their very loving home for the remaining years of her life.

It was called Mother and Baby homes but believe me I am a living survivor of the disgusting abuse done to both me and my mom. The priests were able to relieve their ‘urges’ every Sunday after Sunday feast with the Mother Superior and her fellow nuns. All we ate was bread and cream of mushroom soup or potato soup every day of our lives.

I returned from Ireland for the final burial of my birth mom in October 2010. The truth did set me free but the scars of the abuse will never leave me. As I believe many others out there in USA like myself shipped out for money to awaiting adopted parents have their stories too. No review or booklets given to them of the challenges awaiting them by accepting a child (me) who was suffering from Post Traumatic Disorder before it was even defined by the Medical Jounals.

I never married nor as much as I love children and would have loved to have a child of my own but because of the nightmares and damage done to me from birth till I was sent to USA at the tender age of 4 and half years old I had a lot of issues.

Sharing my story with others via internet on the adoption ireland web site has beenamazing. All of us strangers but survivors of the same orphanage have so much in common it is mind blowing. Most of us have difficulty with relationships – intimacy issues, fears of the dark, trust issues, fear of abandonment is forever present and many of us had tough childhoods.

I was not adopted as a baby and just placed in the arms of parental strangers. I wound up being the ‘seed of a sinner’ as the nuns called it and the Catholic church came up with this idea to get us out of the country and sell us out so they could make more and more and more money for their parishes.

It was all about money and secrets and lies. And over and over I was reminded ‘blood is thicker than water and you will never amount to anything’ I must tell the truth and those words came out of the mouth of my adopted father. we never were close – I was never acknowledged as his daughter for his 10 year old biological daughter was the only child he wanted and adored My adopted mom was full of love and always went the extra yard to defend me or protect me from any harm.

She loved me unconditionally. Her end came in 1992 and prior to her death she gave me my original birth certificate and my original passport which were major missing links and the beginning of my reuniting with my birth mom.

No longer did I believe I was alone and I certainly was not ‘bad’ or a ‘loser’ and many of us throughout the USA suffered as I did  – being sold to USA families and ripped out of the arms of our true moms. All of us children at that time had dollar amounts on our heads for the greedy Catholic nuns and priest for their parishes’ purses and to buy more land…and believe me it cost some of us our lives but most of all it left us with deep holes in our tiny hearts.

But I am a better person today and of all the dreams I have had in my life this was the best dream come true. I had the joy of caring for both moms during their most needed times of their lives. I took care of both moms as a daughter and a nurse which is the career I chose because I am loyal, intelligent, compassionate and had the ability to medically care for them both during their dying hours.

That was a gift for me. And brought me such joy. I don’t think there are too many people out there who had two moms that I was able to be both their private nurse and give them the love just pouring out of my veins from my heart forever and ever.”

Sincerely Catherine Regina Deasy, Florida USA

Via The Adopted (Newsday)

Previously: The Mother Superior And Child

Thanks Sibling of Daedalus

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32 thoughts on “Cathy And Johanna

  1. Anne

    It’s a heart breaking story but the times don’t make sense…

    “It took me 18 years to find my birth mother who gave birth to me at the age of 43 and it was very sad for the emotional/phyisical abuse she endured during her lock up for 40 years

    When they were reunited 40 years later Johanna told Cathy: “You’ve found the black sheep of the family.”

    So her Mum was 43 when she gave birth
    She says they were in the same Mother and baby home for 4 years (in different sections) yet she claims her Mum was moved when she was caught putting booties on her (knitted foot socks for very young babies)

    She found her Mum when after 18 years – so her Mum was 61 at this time
    Yet if her Mum was locked up for 40 years, she would have been 83 when her daughter found her. So what age was she when she found her Mother, 18 or 40?

    Why did the relatives wait until 1976 to get her out?

    This account is full of inconsistancies.

      1. Anne

        If you read my comments I did say:
        It’s a heart breaking story but the times don’t make sense…

        I never accused her of anything or tried to make any negative spin on her words. I just pointed out her account had inconsistancies.

        Sorry if this ruined your day. You obviously read a lot more into my words than I wrote. If it is so importaint to you that this account is read and remains unquestioned, then that is your thing and good luck to you.

          1. Anne

            That’s ok, if you want to make this all about you. If you need everyone to react in the same unquestioning blinkered way to an emotional account of a heartbreaking story, that is your problem. Not mine.

            It would have been too easy for you to admit that yes, there were inconsistancies but no, me pointing them out did not mean I was trying to pour scorn on the woman’s account but you went down the path of personal insults instead. It’s a lonely road and I feel rooted in this is some deep-seated need for you to be at the centre of a drama. That’s not my thing. Bye.

          2. Sibling of Daedalus

            @Kill the Poor

            I don’t see anything indicating that Anne hates either subject of this post. This seems very unfair.

        1. Lush

          She did not start looking for her birth-mother straight after her adoption at the age of four.
          She clearly states that, before her death, her adoptive mother gave her her original passport and birth cert which THEN allowed her to fulfill her search for her birth mother.
          Do you honestly think she started looking at the age of four and had it all sorted by the time she was 22?

    1. Sinabhfuil

      Not inconsistencies necessarily; she doesn’t say, I think, that she started looking for her mother at 18; most adopted people don’t start to look for their birth parents until their thirties or forties.
      As for her use of language re booties and socks, not everyone is equally precise in language.

    2. Mr. T.

      Anne. You have an issue with this woman. I don’t think you’re comfortable with these stories coming out and would prefer if they remained untold. That is why you immediately seek out a reason to undermine their credibility.

      1. Anne

        I have no problem with the stories coming out. My heart goes out to any woman or child who found themselves in this position. I am delighed they have the strenght to tell their stories. I think they should be shouted about from the highest mountain to stop anything like these horror stories ever happening again.
        I think the behaviour of the church was discraseful.

        Just because I point out incosistancies in one story does not mean you get to imagine that I want all such stories to remain untold. Stop putting your spin on my words. I imagine you have very little to do all day and sit on sites like this waiting to take a pop at people (See, it’s not nice when people make up sh+t about you, is it?)

    3. Malatey

      I don’t think the 18 years is counted from when she first travelled to america, it sounds like the 18 years starts from when she realised there was an irish mammy to look for. They were separated for 40 years in total.

      Such a heart breaking story, and to think she was just ONE of many people that this happened to….

  2. DP

    Anne they’re not inconsistencies, you’ve just read it wrong. She doesn’t say she started to look for her mother at 18, she said it took her 18 years. Booties could also mean ‘small boots’ not the word you are making assumptions it means. She also says it was her cousins, ie the next generation, who finally got her Mother out. Maybe the earlier generation were brainwashed like most of their generation that the nuns were by definition ‘good people’ and felt shame about their sibling and it took the next generation to do the decent thing. Ireland started to change in the 1970s after all and young people then were seeing through the church on things like contraception and also feminism was showing how women had been treated was wrong so that generation were more able to see through the lies.

    I think you let your assumptions rush in and that this story has no inconsistencies. Hope you have the decency to apologise for throwing doubt on the story based on your misreading.

  3. Spaghetti Hoop

    I’m merely scrawling this on the virtual margin of this post but can someone tell me if Anne with no avatar, Anne with floppy hat, Anne with the red dress, Amanda and Helen (the bad one) all the same person??

        1. Anne

          Oh what do we have here? A bully appealing to any of the regular broadsheet clique to join in trying to outcast commenters who don’t want to be part of any cliques.

          You do a lot of presuming multiple commenters are the same person it seems Spaghetti Hoop.
          I.e. the photographer – John Murray and ‘troll sayer’ on that other thread.
          Calling John an arrogant pr*ck ( based on presuming he was also ‘troll sayer’, it seems) and insinuating I’m a hooker for merely asking you the question, where was he arrogant?

          A bully, who sneers at people she presumes haven’t purchased a home.

  4. ReproBertie

    “The priests were able to relieve their ‘urges’ every Sunday after Sunday feast with the Mother Superior and her fellow nuns.”

    That’d be the very same priests that were condemning people like Johanna Sheehy for having sex outside of marriage. I just can’t find the words to express the anger this sort of thing instills in me.

  5. dinjo

    What about the lady who’s son replied to her letter but he didn’t want to meet her.. her story was so sad.. and a lovely woman too

Comments are closed.

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