A Modest Proposal


TO: The Adoption Authority of Ireland
Shelbourne House, Shelbourne Road
Dublin 4
Republic of Ireland

RE: A Modest Proposal

Dear Chairman Shannon and Board Members,

It has come to my attention that the Adoption Authority of Ireland recently met with the U.S. Department of State with a view toward establishing a bilateral adoption agreement that would allow for the export of available U.S. citizens to Ireland for purposes of adoption, particularly from Florida. I understand this is in response to continued insatiable demand by prospective adopting couples in Ireland, who have been thwarted by now closed-off avenues such as Vietnam, Russia and other ‘sending’ countries.

I am aware that these avenues were cut off because of mounting cases of fraud, illegal and gray-market practice and inability to comply with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. And that’s as it should be. I am pleased that the Authority took such action to insure that adoption practice is always carried out for the right reasons and in the best interests of the child involved. Adoption should always be about finding homes for children who desperately need them; not about finding children for homes that desperately want them.

But now Ireland turns to the U.S. as a sending source. And while on the surface, one would imagine this to be an idyllic situation – after all, America is a developed nation, one of the ‘greatest’ in the world – unfortunately, as an adopted adult living in the U.S., I sadly know it is far from idyllic. Many U.S. states continue to abrogate the rights of adopted adults. Original birth certificates in all but six U.S. states remain retroactively sealed. And of those six states with some measure of openness, only three offer complete, unfettered access to the original birth certificate (Kansas, Alaska and Oregon). Moreover, adoption agencies in many U.S. states continue to violate the Hague, dealing in gray-market placements, coerced relinquishment practice, infant stealing and trafficking, and shoddy post-adoption services.

In looking to Florida as a potential sending ‘source’, one cannot find a more abhorrent situation. As a ‘border’ (water) state, Florida is a gateway to thousands of illegals entering the U.S., largely from Latin America. And a good part of that illegal flow is equally illegally trafficked children, often outright stolen from parents with little resources or understanding, from countries like Haiti, Guatemala, Brazil, Chile and elsewhere. Florida also has an abysmal placement record even among its own citizens and many agencies operating out of the state continue to use practices such as falsifying birth certificate, allow private, ‘sub rosa’ unregulated adoptions (c.f. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman), improper vetting of prospective parents (resulting in poor placements which often leave children at risk for abuse and neglect) and, of course, sealing the original birth certificates of adopted adults in the state.

It is ironic, too, that Ireland would look to the U.S. as a sending source now, considering it has hardly dealt with the aftermath of its own export of children to the U.S. from the 1940s through the 1960s. The Adoption Authority recently reaccredited St. Patrick’s Guild, an agency notoriously involved in the past child export scheme and still currently involved in investigations concerning fraud (c.f. Tressa Reeves and other pending cases). St. Patrick’s, along with the Sacred Heart Adoption Society, St. Patrick’s Home (Navan Road) and others, sent thousands of Irish children to the U.S., often illegally (particularly those sent prior to the 1952 Adoption Act). Informed consent and signed relinquishments were given little thought in that time, and mothers were often cruelly unaware of where their children were being sent, or that they were giving permanent relinquishment. Concrete evidence exists that many of those children were used in unethical vaccine trials conducted by Burroughs Wellcome (now GlaxoSmithKline); this investigation is still ongoing, despite recent attempts by the Oireachtas Health Committee to once again sweep it under the carpet.

I was one of Ireland’s original ‘Banished Babies.’ And I have a modest proposal for the Irish Adoption Authority. Rather than risk the potential for fraud, corruption and violations of the Hague Convention and take a chance on ‘unknown’ U.S. children, why not choose a ‘known quantity’?

I would like to offer myself for placement with any Irish parents seeking to adopt from the U.S.

I already possess Irish citizenship rights; am toilet-trained and easily adaptable; speak English well (albeit with an American accent); I get along well with others; and most importantly, I come unfettered as my mother long ago gave up rights to me, is more than likely dead, and even if still alive, because of the shabby, post-adoption trace assistance offered me by my original placing agency in Ireland, I am unlikely to ever find members of my family of origin. I could even pay my own way over. I can cook and clean, drive my new family around and be quite useful.

I promise not to be ‘ungrateful,’ whinge over my circumstances or create a nuisance for my new family. I’ve already been broken of those ‘bad habits’ by my former adoptive family, agencies and the general public. All I seek is repatriation to the land of my birth and I can be whatever my new family wants me to be. I understand that being at least 50 years of age, I may be a bit ‘older’ than what my new family expects. But I am truly in need of a good home – a home in the land where I was born, before being cruelly ripped away from my first mother and shipped more than 3,000 miles away to a strange, new country at an age where I was already walking, talking and had a close, prolonged bonding experience with my first mother for nearly two years. But don’t worry – I’m over all that now, which is one of the benefits of advanced age. In another few years, I likely won’t remember it all. And the good news is, my new family won’t have to deal with me for long, or at least no more than 30-40 years, which is far less than what they’d have to contend with in procuring a newborn.

Most importantly, this proposal is quite a ‘green’ option: recycling citizens (particularly trained, working, tax-paying ones), rather than bringing in new ones to add to the already overburdened Irish economy just makes sense.

I do hope you’ll consider my proposal with all due seriousness. And if not, at least consider cleaning up the mess left by Ireland’s previous ‘export’ business before repeating history, only in reverse.

Sincerely yours,

Mari Steed
nee Mary Therese Fitzpatrick
or whatever new name you’d like to assign me…hell, I’m easy.