In my extended family, we are 63 cousins, children of 8 families. Of these 9 were adopted as children and we all grew up together as cousins and shared the same grandparents. During this week, I have been very mindful of all those women whose children were adopted, of all the adopted themselves and all the families like our own who welcomed an adopted child or children. Knowing the story of these various family members I am aware of the desire of some of them to know about their birth mother and their father.
I have seen first-hand the joys and pain of that journey of discovery with some great successes and some pretty painful rejections. To my shame I don’t know exactly how these adopted cousins came to their adopting families, this part of the story wasn’t widely shared in the family. The stories of their lives before they came to be with my aunts and uncles wasn’t much spoken of. I am aware of mention of nuns and convents and I imagine that Mother and Baby Homes are part of our story too. Now I am wrestling with questions as to why we didn’t talk about this aspect of their lives more openly. There has been a great deal of pain, sorrow, anger and outrage expressed during the week as final report of The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes was first leaked and then published. So many different aspects of the reality of life in these Homes has been revealed, apologised for and comment on, it is hard to take it all in.
The Church played an enormous part in this aspect of Irish life for the first 60 years of the Irish State some of which is deeply shameful and totally lacking in Christian love. Bishops, Religious Congregations and others within the church community have expressed unreserved apologies, promised to make reparations and to sustain all affected by this harsh and unkind regime. This is the very least they can do and their actions will be closely scrutinised in the months ahead to ensure that actions follow in keeping with these promises. The church of today, all of us, are asked to bring the compassion of Christ to our encounter with all the people affected by this report.