The illegal adoptions organized by the late Dr. Irene Creedon of Monaghan has left some frustrated and angered with the lack of transparency in their origins, while others regard her as a heroine for helping troubled mothers and children.
The Daily Mail reports on the illegal operations that were discovered by Margaret Norton, who was illegally adopted when she was only three days old. While Norton had a good upbringing, she is angered that she will never know who her birth parents are.
“I was very well brought up. My mother was very affectionate and we got on very well. I was always comfortable at home and even as a teenager I didn’t have an interest in looking for my birth family,” said Norton of her adoptive family.
“It was only when I first fell pregnant 14 years ago that I began to wonder. People used to say, “Your son is the image of you,” so I used to think, “But who do I look like?”’
Norton, who was told from a young age that she was adopted, first became privy to the strange nature of her adoption in her twenties when she was preparing to move abroad. When looking at her birth certificate, she noticed that her adoptive parents were registered as her natural parents, which she knew not to be true.
Norton recalls, “I remember thinking, ‘This is not an adoptive cert, this is a birth cert. Surely you had to produce something from the doctor or hospital to say you had this child?’”
The birth certificate read that Norton was born to her adoptive parents at Dr. Creedon’s office in Carrickmacross in Monaghan, which Norton knew wasn’t true.
“I got a copy of the register and my dad had signed it but not my mother, so I asked him about it.”
Norton went to her father with questions, but could never get any straight answers.
“I did ask him why he registered me as his child and he said he couldn’t remember – but it is definitely his signature. There was no paperwork anywhere that I could find. Dad thought he had a file but I never found it.”
“He wouldn’t tell me, I think he had some of the information, but Mammy didn’t. His signature appears on the register, but Mammy’s doesn’t.”
Norton’s adoptive parents both died within the past year, further fueling her search for her own birth parents.
“I never would have known I was adopted if my adoptive parents hadn’t told me,” Norton said.
“The things Mam did tell me were that I was three days old when she got me and I came with clothes. That’s all I know.”
“The story I know is that my adoptive mother and father picked me up three days after I was born from a hotel car park on the outskirts of Dundalk or Drogheda – we don’t know which one. That’s all I know. I’ve written and called to people I thought might be able to point me in the right direction, but there is no paperwork anywhere that we know of or can access.
“I believe my adoptive mother didn’t have a clue about my past, or else she was told, ‘Don’t ever repeat this.’
“But by my birth cert it looks as if nothing ever happened. There was three months between me being born and being registered. In the years that followed I went to look at the registry and my dad signed it, it was his handwriting… but my mother didn’t sign it.
“Mam developed Alzheimer’s around 10 years ago so it became much harder to find out more about my past. Even for health reasons alone it became more important to me to know who I am, to know about my identity.”
Not surprisingly, Norton is left frustrated with the entire operation. However, Dr. Creedon’s daughter Marie McDermott defends her late mother’s actions.
“She helped a lot of people,” McDermott said. “They were different times and a different era. People came to her when they needed help, whether it was to give up a child or to adopt a child.”
“My mother was a wonderful person, a heroine, she was an extraordinary woman.”
“Paperwork wasn’t something they were strict about back then; that’s changed for the better. Some people don’t want to be found but I do understand that people have a right to know who they are. Lots of girls had babies who were hidden or given away back then. It was very sad and people were ashamed. Mammy helped a lot of those people.”
McDermott insists that her mother never took money for helping the adoptions. “The things she did to help people was unreal: she helped people who were elderly and hungry as well as people who could not have children and were not allowed to have children. She did not ask for money; it was not about money, she had her own. Sometimes she came home with a bag of potatoes or turnips as a gift.”
Still though, Margaret Norton is angry with the entire operation. “I’m angry that this went on when it shouldn’t have. It was completely wrong.”
“I have absolutely no idea who my birth parents are and there is no way of me finding out without them coming forward or passing me some information. There is simply no trace of my past and every door has been closed in my face.”
“I have a nice life. So I just need to know who my birth mother is. Even if she was to contact me to say, “I am who I am and my family don’t know”, I understand. Even if I get a note in the door anonymously, that’s fine by me. I respect her privacy. I just want to know who I am.”