Son of Éamon De Valera facilitated illegal adoptions through his medical practice
Nuns chased birth mother for maintenance after adoption
For 62 years Brenda Lynch believed she was the daughter of a middle class couple from Dublin. But in January 2020 she discovered she had been illegally adopted. Brenda is among those to tell her story in RTÉ Investigates: Ireland’s Illegal Adoptions
March 03 2021 02:30 AM
A son of former President and Taoiseach Éamon de Valera facilitated illegal adoptions in the 1950s and 1960s, according to a new documentary.
Professor Éamon de Valera Jr is said to have helped arrange for four children to be illegally adopted into the same house.
Evidence has also emerged showing he arranged antenatal appointments for a woman who was not pregnant.
This allowed her to pretend the child she was illegally adopting was hers.
Prof De Valera is one of three doctors named in a documentary being broadcast tonight who are alleged to have facilitated such adoptions.
The programme, RTÉ Investigates: Ireland’s Illegal Adoptions, also details how the Sisters of Charity, who ran the infamous St Patrick’s Guild Adoption Society, pursued a birth mother for maintenance payments for her daughter, long after she had actually been adopted.
Among documents obtained by one woman who was illegally adopted, Dubliner Susan Kiernan, was a demand by for £85 from her birth mother.
The fee, roughly equivalent to €3,200 today, was charged by the Sisters of Charity for a baby’s upkeep until they were adopted. When her birth mother could not afford to pay, the nuns pursued her. A
A threat was made to send the child back to her.
A year after she gave birth the nuns began phoning Arnotts, where she worked as a shop assistant. A letter was sent threatening to send a money collector around.
“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,” it said.
Records show they were seeking money for a child who was no longer in their care. Susan had been adopted when she was just four day’s old.
While long suspected, the extent of the illegal adoption scandal only began to emerge after St Patrick’s Guild transferred its files to Tusla in 2016.
Tusla found 126 cases where children were incorrectly registered as the biological child of their adoptive parents.
Prof De Valera’s involvement is said to have come through his work as a consultant gynaecologist, where his patients included women who had difficulty conceiving.
According to the documentary, he facilitated the illegal adoptions of four children into the one household in the space of five-and-a-half years.
One of those illegally adopted, Brenda Lynch, told how she was taken from her birth mother and handed over to her adoptive mother as a newborn baby at St Brendan’s Nursing Home on Dublin’s Percy Place in the late 1950s. Her adoptive brother, Brian, became the second baby to be placed with the family in 1960.
His adoption was concealed by a fake pregnancy, with his adoptive mother again going to St Brendan’s on her pretend due date. He would later track down his birth mother, who was unmarried when she gave birth, and found out she had never even had a chance to hold him in her arms before she had to hand him over.
“She was told to get up and get out, to get dressed and leave,” he said.
The siblings were never told the truth by their adoptive mother, who feared they would face stigma if it were known they were adopted.
Mary Flanagan, another woman whose illegal adoption was said to have been facilitated by Prof de Valera, was born in March 1961. She only discovered in October 2019, after being contacted by Tusla, that she, her sister Anne and their late brother Seamus were not the biological children of the people they’d always believed to be their parents.
Ms Flanagan described the situation as surreal. “I don’t know where my roots are. All I can think is that it is like a tree falling over and there are no roots. The roots are gone. That is how I feel,” she said.
Prof De Valera is also said to have been involved in the illegal adoption by a Belfast couple of Line of Duty actor Patrick Fitzsymons. He told of how his adoptive mother was sent an appointment card for an antenatal check-up.
“She wasn’t pregnant but there you go. It was all part of the pretence,” he said.
Former Tánaiste Joan Burton, who was herself adopted, said she feared the number of people who had birth certs falsified may be much higher than current figures show.