Patrick Farrell was completely unaware that the parents he’d known all his life were not his birth parents. That was until 2012 when he was contacted by the Adoption Authority of Ireland about his true identity.
When Tressa Reeves, nee Donnelly, gave birth in St Patrick’s Guild Dublin in 1961, her family did not wish for her to return to England with her newborn son. Then 20 years old, Reeves, who was from Hampshire in England, spent just eight hours with the son she named Andre Donnelly before, she believed, he was being taken from her to be put up for adoption. She was led to believe he had been adopted in America. Instead, he had been given to a childless couple in County Carlow.
Returning to England from St. Patrick’s Guild, Reeves continued with her life, marrying and having four further children. Her first child was never far from her thoughts, however, and in the late 1970s, she returned to look for her son.
The adoption agency said they had no records of her or Andre Donnelly, however, and Reeves quickly realized that she had no proof that she ever had a son or that he had been adopted. One of the nuns at St. Patrick’s Guild even asked her if she was sure she had another child or whether she could have just imagined it.
It wasn’t until 20 years later that the adoption agency admitted that names were changed on her son’s birth certificate and instead of being adopted to a family in Co. Carlow, he was essentially handed over to them. They were even recorded on his birth certificate as his birth parents.
Patrick Farrell was completely unaware that this was his story until 2012 when he was contacted and informed of the case by the Adoption Authority of Ireland. He and his birth mother Reeves, who he eventually met for the first time in 2013, have now brought a case to the Irish High Court against the adoption agency St. Patrick’s Guild for false representations as to Reeve’s son's location and for failure to provide Reeves with information she was entitled to in her decades-long battle to find her son.
Farrell is also claiming damages and exemplary damages on grounds including that his Constitutional rights were breached, claiming that he was placed with a family who was not properly assessed and with an adopted father who proved to be violent toward him.
Tressa Reeves and her son, kept apart for decades due to an illegal registration - and who asked AAI to inform her son of his true origins, will begin her case in the HC tomorrow. The State are defending the case https://t.co/nZrRRvWVj7— Conall Ó Fátharta (@ococonuts) July 2, 2018
Giving his testimony to the High Court on Tuesday afternoon, Farrell stated that learning he had been “illegally adopted” was a “bombshell”.
While he has since developed a good relationship with his birth mother, he stated that he was “very angry” at the way that she had been treated in looking for information on him.
The shock of discovering he had been given two names and had originally been Andre Donnelly was also hard for him to cope with, the court heard, and resulted in him leaving a job working with the Luas in Dublin for a job closer to his home so that he could come to terms with it with his family.
“You cannot buy time, and how can you get back even the last 20 years” he added when asked of his current relationship with the Donnelly family, stating that his biggest regret is that he had a half-sister who passed away in 2006, whom he would now never meet.
Farrell also told the court of several incidents when his adopted father Jim Farrell displayed violence toward him. While his adopted mother Maeve was kind to Patrick, his father, he claims, once broke the knuckles in his right hand with a hurl after Patrick lost a handball match in Croke Park. Patrick claims he required 32 stitches when Jim hit him with part of a plow as well.
The case is expected to continue over the next few days.
#Tressa Reeves' baby boy was illegally adopted in 1961 and she spent decades pleading for information. When they discovered 'Adoption Stories' was broadcasting her story, the authorities reunited them. More to come in 'Nobody's Child' documentary soon. https://t.co/OL15EkxDOJ pic.twitter.com/wRbW3HlI1R— Sharon Lawless (@ShashLawless) July 2, 2018
St. Patrick’s Guild in Dublin was the Catholic adoption society named by Irish child and family agency Tusla recently when they confirmed illegal adoptions had taken place in Ireland. Some of these adoptions saw Irish children adopted to couples in the US, with the US couple wrongfully placed on their birth certificate as the child's birth parents.
On May 30, Irish Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone revealed 126 confirmed cases of incorrectly registered births over the course of two decades from St Patrick’s Guild Society.
My gran Tressa Reeves is at the High Court in Dublin today seeking acknowledgement, apology and redress for the illegal adoption of her son 58 years ago. BBC News - 'My son was illegally adopted' https://t.co/Al2MHrtZT6— Stella Judson (@EstellaJudson) July 3, 2018
According to the Irish Examiner, however, Tusla has also shown concern about over 700 other adoptions from St Patrick’s Guild that show evidence of names being changed, cash payments being made, adoptions being made to the US and no corresponding adoption order being found.
The confirmed 126 cases announced in May will now be contacted by social workers from Tusla to inform them that their adoptive parents were wrongly and illegally registered on their birth certificate as their birth parents. Tusla revealed that as many as 79 people in these cases may be "entirely unaware of the circumstances of their birth." The 126 established cases were registered by St Patrick’s Guild adoption society between 1946 and 1969. The youngest person affected is 49 and the oldest is 72.
It is believed that St. Patrick’s Guild alone may have organized as many as 2,000 unregisters and illegal adoptions, while adoptions to the US carried out in this manner throughout all the various adoption societies could value in the thousands.
Already in May 2018, IrishCentral covered the story of former Maine police officer Kevin Battle, who was denied access to his mother by Irish Catholic nuns and told she was dead. His mother, in turn, was told her son died and Battle was, unfortunately, to never discover the truth until she passed away.