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Ireland 'Duped and cheated': Reunited mother and son take Catholic adoption agency to High Court

16:55  03 july  2018
16:55  03 july  2018 Source:   thejournal.ie

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Catholic Charities agencies around the country have long provided adoption and foster care services to the neediest children. Catholic Charities takes on the most difficult placements, including older, abused children and children with special needs.

The case is being heard before the High Court. © Sasko Lazarov RollingNews.ie The case is being heard before the High Court. A DAMAGES CLAIM brought by a woman and her son who was adopted shortly after she gave birth to him in the early 1960s against a Catholic Adoption agency has opened before the High Court.

During her search Tressa Reeves, nee Donnelly, from Surrey in England said she was given the brush off and told that the boy she named Andre was placed with a family in the United States.

Despite being fobbed off for many years, it is claimed, he had been placed with a family living in Carlow where he was named Patrick Farrell.

She claims the placement was not lawful and without the legal safeguards provided under the adoption laws.

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After a long battle for information, she and her son Patrick Farrell from Tullow in Carlow were finally reunited in 2013.

  'Duped and cheated': Reunited mother and son take Catholic adoption agency to High Court © Catalyst Images As a result, the mother and son have sued the St Patrick’s Adoption Society and Ireland, and the Attorney General seeking damages.

They claim that the defendants made false misrepresentations concerning her son’s location, deceit and failed to provide them with information about each other that the plaintiffs were entitled to.

It is also claimed there was a failure to protect their family rights and that the son was placed with a couple, Maeve and James Farrell, whose suitability was never assessed.

Her son seeks damages and exemplary damages on grounds including that his Constitutional rights were breached.

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It is alleged the State failed to vindicate or recognise the mother and son’s rights.

The claims are denied.

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Opening the case Eanna Mulloy SC for the mother and son said Donnelly was from a highly respectable family in England, which was very religious, and had connections in Ireland.

His client became pregnant shortly before her 21st birthday. It was then arranged for her to travel to Ireland, for work experience and she ended up at a house in Clontarf in Dublin through the St Patrick’s Guild, which was run by the Sisters of Charity Nuns.

Counsel said she gave birth to a boy on 13 March 1961 at the Marie Clinic in Clontarf.

She was “sternly warned”, not to touch the newborn as it would be “bad for the child”, who was to be put up for adoption.

However she defied this warning, counsel said, and baptised him with holy water she had in the home in the hope that someday she would find him.

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Shortly afterwards she was taken away and signed various forms consenting to the adoption. Counsel said the form was “false”.

Counsel said the documents she signed were legal nullities and had none of the normal safeguards required.

In addition, counsel said the contents of the form about the mother’s details were fudged and lacking in detail.

A nun from the Sisters of Charity order shows a baby to visitors at the New York Foundling hospital in 1947. (Photo by FPG/Getty Images) © Catalyst Images A nun from the Sisters of Charity order shows a baby to visitors at the New York Foundling hospital in 1947. (Photo by FPG/Getty Images) Counsel said that over the years his client, following her marriage and the birth of her other children, made visits to Ireland in attempts to get information about her son without much success.

She was brushed off by the nuns she dealt with at the Guild, it was said, and a person who worked at the place where she gave birth to her son suggested the boy was among those infants who went to the USA.

Sent from ‘Billy to Jack’

Over the years counsel said that she got very limited information from the society, and was sent around to “Billy to Jack” and told she was not entitled to information on the basis of a right to privacy that the Farrells were entitled to.

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Counsel said the Farrells were never entitled to such a right to privacy and did not trump his client’s rights.

When she did get the file, she discovered the names of the family who adopted her son had been blacked out.

newborn hand © Catalyst Images newborn hand Counsel said that the adoption agency continued “a good, slow attitude” which was adopted when it came to providing information to Reeves.

She was eventually reunited with her son Patrick Farrell/Andre Donnelly in 2013, but counsel said she was “duped and cheated, through and through”.

Counsel said his adoptive father subjected him to extreme violence, who over the years inflicted several serious injuries on him, including breaking his front teeth, and breaking his hand after he lost a handball match.

The case before Mr Justice Denis McDonald continues and is expected to last for several days.

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