“The first time I heard my biological grandmother’s accent I thought it sounded funny. She came over from Scotland to visit us and my mam waited with the excitement of a little child to meet her, she was so happy. You see, my mother was taken away from my grandmother as a baby. My grandma was forced into a ‘Magdalene asylum,’ these were institutions where unmarried women who, upon becoming pregnant, were taken by force, stripped of their rights, subjected to horrific treatment and made work for the state in these institutions. My grandma was forced to give up my mother.
When my mam was taken from her arms, my grandma couldn’t deal with the pain anymore, and as a young girl she planned her escape alone and ran away to England, then to Scotland. Years later she found Barnardos, who helped her write a letter to my mam, they met and became the best of friends. They would talk on the phone for hours each day, she’d visit us and we’d visit her. It warms my heart thinking back to one holiday when my grandma brought us to the Irish country house she grew up in. We picked berries and had barbeques. My mother was the happiest I had ever seen. I had the most incredible grandparents growing up, but if not for Barnardos, my mam would have never known who her birth mother was. She says the day she met her mother was the day she found her identity. I feel very grateful to say that I work for Barnardos. I’m doing something I love with knowledge that I’m doing a small part in giving back to the organisation that gave my mother the gift of finding her family.”