Cherished equally?
“Outdoor” provision for illegitimate children
in Precarious childhood in post-independence Ireland
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This chapter makes an analysis with regard to illegitimate children being raised in their own homes and families. It is noted that illegitimate children born in county homes and maternity hospitals were as likely to go home with their mothers as they were to be boarded out, sent to institutions, or sent overseas for adoption. Illegitimate children were either rejected or marginalized by stepfathers who resented the burden of providing for other men's children. Concerns about boarded-out children being overworked was further reflected in concerns for their school attendance. Some boarded-out children were neglected because of the age and infirmity of their foster parents. Children at nurse were particularly vulnerable to extreme neglect, and thus to premature death. A significant number of illegitimate children were raised with their own families, and they likely had experiences that differed little from working-class children who were born to married parents.


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