‘That stuff is FOI-able … and it could be used against us if someone takes a case’
Unlawful adoption in the past and the present – how much has changed?
in Legacies of the Magdalen Laundries
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Jackie Foley* was just 16 in 1974 when she signed a consent form in the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Cork to have her son adopted. She didn’t sign her own name. Instead, under instruction from a nun, and in the presence of a solicitor and her mother, she was forced to write a different name – Micheline Power* – a woman who does not exist. As a result, all of the documentation that followed this act was deliberately, illegally falsified, obliterating both Jackie’s and her son's identities from the official record. However, the historic treatment of Jackie replays in the present. Almost half a century later, the attitude of state agencies to her case is as cold-hearted as the nuns who forced her as a young, frightened and vulnerable girl to sign away both her own and her son’s identities.

The details of this case – what happened in the past, and the state’s response in the present – begs the question: has the attitude of official Ireland to women who were forced to give their children up for adoption changed over the past half-century?

* Names changed to protect the identity of the people involved.

Legacies of the Magdalen Laundries

Commemoration, gender, and the postcolonial carceral state


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