Philomena Lee (left) with her screen counterpart, Judi Dench.
Photo by: Google Images
The inspiration behind the Oscar nominated movie ‘Philomena’ has appealed to the Irish government to change the country’s stringent adoption laws.
Philomena Lee’s story is now wooing audiences worldwide in the movie which tells the story of how she became pregnant in 1952 and her son Anthony was taken from her at three and adopted by a US family.
The hit movie tells how she spent years trying to re-unite with her son but failed before his 1995 death from AIDS.
Speaking at the launch in Dublin of a new campaign to relax Ireland’s adoption laws, Philomena recalled how her son was taken from her in a Tipperary home for unmarried mothers.
She said: “He was taken the week before Christmas and I cried and cried and I think I drove the nuns mad.
“I think if I had only met him once more and put my arms around him and given him a hug; he was so intensely looking for me. I pray for him every day and talk to him every day.
“They told him that I had abandoned him at two weeks, which I hadn’t. I raised him for three-and-a-half years.
“It’s awful the thought of him dying thinking I had abandoned him.”
The Irish Independent newspaper reports that Philomena said that the mother-and-baby home told the young man when he searching for his mother that they ‘knew nothing about me.’
She added: “But every time I moved address, I wrote to them in case he wanted to find me. They lied to a dying man.”
Ireland’s Adoption Rights Alliance believes Philomena’s case is not unique.
Currently over 60,000 adoption files are held by the Ireland’s health service, private adoption agencies and church representatives.
Adoption Rights Alliance co-founder Susan Lohan said: “This is another subset of women who were incarcerated in a joint enterprise by the church and state.
“The vast, vast majority of children in the mother and baby homes were taken without their mothers’ consent.”
The report says Philomena, her daughter Jane Libberton and journalist Martin Sixsmith were in Dublin for the launch of The Philomena Project in association with the Adoption Rights Alliance.
The project aims to effect legislative change by calling on the Irish State to grant access to over 60,000 adoption records.
The paper adds that the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary order who ran the mother-and-baby home has expressed concerns over the film’s depiction of their nuns.
The order has also denied that they had blocked attempts by adopted children to access records.