A Daughter’s Love


Susan Kiernan with a portrait of herself as a young girl. Susan was illegally adopted at four days old.

Last night.

RTÉ Investigates: Illegal Adoptions.

In case you missed it.

Laura Fitzgerald writes:

Dublin woman Susan Kiernan – who featured on last night’s programme – learned as a child she was adopted. She spent years unsuccessfully trying to trace her birth mother when out of the blue in 2018 she received a letter from TUSLA looking to set up a meeting with her.

She was told she was one of the 126 babies illegally adopted. She managed to sneak copies of some of her documents during the meeting but was later provided with redacted records when she went through official channels.

Among the documents seen last night was a demand for £85, the fee St Patrick’s Guild charged pregnant women to care for their babies until adopted – the equivalent of over €3,200 in today’s money.

But when Susan’s birth mother did not pay her fee, the Sisters of Charity went in pursuit. Two months on they threatened to send the child back to her.

The documents showed a year on Susan’s birth mother was still struggling to pay the nuns and they began phoning Arnotts, where she worked as a shop assistant. The balance due was £82-10s…

If you do not send, my collector will call to see you. She would prefer not to have to do this as it might be embarrassing for you and we want to safeguard your reputation. We have not failed you; you have failed us“.

However, Susan’s birth mother was unaware the letters to return her baby, were nothing more than idle threats. Because Susan could not have been returned – she had in fact already long since been placed with her adoptive parents at only four days old.

Watch back here


Last night.


This morning.

Pic: RTÉ

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6 thoughts on “A Daughter’s Love

  1. Breeda

    As an Irish person, I am very proud of all who contributed last night; Susan you were amazing. You spoke so bravely to explain the complete and utter shock to you and how that continues to impact.

    Losing one’s place in the world – the rug has been pulled right out from under you and the State and Religous Orders and establishment figures all colluded against the vulnerability of your unwed mother. Those calls (and there were many, even across the water) to the mothers for payments for maintenance of the child to adoption. £3,200.00 for four days care of little Susan prior to adoption and the threats to expose the mum at her place of employment is downright criminal, blackmailing her – they didn’t even have little Susan on their premises. She was already adopted, at four days old. This from the Order of the Sisters of Charity.

    This ‘sampling review’ which focused on just one institution St. Pat’s Guild to reveal 151 cases of false registration is only the tip of the iceberg. The report was delayed pending the publication of the Commission’s report into Mother and Baby Homes. For some twenty years the State has been toying with the idea of adoption legislation – 2001 Mary Hanafin’s draft scheme on adoption information and post adoption contact was approved by cabinet. The legislation proposed that adopted people who were in breach of a contact veto would be fined a sum up to 5000.00 or imprisoned. Roll on to 2015 then Minister James Reilly published the General Scheme and Heads of an Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill. Again this placed the onus on the adopted people to sign a Statutory Declaration that they would not attempt to contact their natural parent(s) if they were provided with a birth cert.

    Brian who featured last night thought he was an American boy, he never realised until last year at almost sixty years of age, that he was in fact born in Dublin.
    The State, Eamon De Valera Junior, involved in the illegal registering – even dates were changed, some three weeks later.
    It’s difficult to stomach this, time and again one expose into the treatment of children and then acknowledge the Commission’s Report which attempts to continue the false narrative – State/Church did little wrong, it was the ‘families’ …

    Is there no bloody end to it? the cover-up needs to stop and full disclosure of all documentation – seizing from the Institutions if not provided voluntarily. Who would deny a person their identity?

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