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Barnardos Celebrate 30th Anniversary of Post Adoption Service

Growing Stronger Together: Barnardos Celebrate 30th Anniversary of Post Adoption Service through the Stories of Birthmothers

“I often wonder how they could have taken my baby away and not considered me?”

Siobhan, Barnardos Post Adoption Service User

30 October 2020: To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Barnardos Post Adoption Service, a service that provides support to birth/natural mothers and adopted adults, the charity has today launched a publication and audio documentary ‘Growing Stronger Together’. These emotive pieces of work share the experiences of women parting with their children for adoption through their own words; and their participation in Barnardos Post Adoption Support groups.

The result is a moving piece of work providing an informed insight to what these mothers lived through. The publication includes 14 birth/natural mother stories, poetry and art while the audio documentary shares four of these stories read by the women and narrated by Irish actress, and birthmother, Sinead Cusack.

Both of these moving pieces give clear insight to a period in Irish history that was shrouded in secrecy and shame.

“I don’t know another woman that had a baby adopted. Are there others like me?”

Barnardos Post Adoption Service User

“All I was left with was my scarred body and his little blue wristband.”

Siobhan, Barnardos Post Adoption Service User

“There were no winners here, we had all lost and here we were thrown into the deep end with no survival aids.”

Patricia, Barnardos Post Adoption Service User

The organisation first set up a post adoption helpline in 1977, which provided someone to talk to, and a safe space for women who were feeling isolated and alone in their experiences with adoption and, often, the forceful removal of their children. As the need for the service grew Barnardos began offering group support for women in October 1990. Barnardos Post Adoption Service continues to run confidential meetings for women whose children have been adopted; some through Mother and Baby homes, and some through societal pressures of the time; and also for adopted adults. These meetings are an opportunity to talk about experiences in the past and perhaps to prepare for contact with a now adult son, daughter or mother.

“We sat in Barnardos and opened that attic door. In a safe haven our pain was allowed to pour.”

‘Jane’s Poem’, Barnardos Post Adoption Service User

“Some 37 years after she was taken from me, I finally met my beautiful daughter again.”

Mae, Barnardos Post Adoption Service User

Christine Hennessy, Barnardos Post Adoption Service Leader said: “Barnardos has been providing support services to birth/natural mothers and adopted adults for more than 30 years. We have also been providing a family tracing service to people who spent their childhood in industrial schools and homes for over 15 years. We have listened carefully to hundreds of stories from adopted adults who feel a deep need to understand the circumstances of their birth – a right that is available to everyone else. Some of these adults have described the need to know as a “hole in their heart”…

“We have also listened to many stories over the years from birth/natural mothers who longed to know what happened to her baby; did she grow up in a happy home; is he married now; does she think of me; and even, is she still alive? We hope that over the last 30 years, this service has supported women to move forward with their lives.

“We want to thank everyone who has participated in the groups over the years and those who have shared their stories on our anniversary – for their courage, their support of each other, and for showing us a strength of their human spirit which enabled them to open up about one of life’s most difficult experiences – the loss of your child.”


Notes to Editor:

  • Read our anniversary publication ‘Growing Stronger Together’ here
  • Listen to the audio documentary here
  • For high res copies of images included in the publication, please contact Barnardos Press Office

For further information, please contact:  

Barnardos Press Office
Lorna Cronnelly: 087 0957757
Trudy McCarthy 01 7080442 / 086 0445966

About Barnardos

Barnardos’ mission is to deliver services and work with families, communities, and our partners to transform the lives of vulnerable children who are affected by adverse childhood experiences. Because childhood lasts a lifetime  

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