I was always known as, ‘The child my mother reared’

 “I was always known as, ‘The child my mother reared’, no one meant any harm by this of course, but it sticks with you. I was never adopted, just taken to be minded as a “Nurse Child”. A neighbour called my mam one day and said, ‘There is a little baby girl in the nursing home on the North Circular Road, with the most beautiful big brown eyes, do you want to take her?’ My mam borrowed a pram, collected me and brought me home. Until the age of 12, I’d always thought I was always part of the family and no different. I remember when my mam told me that I was a nurse child. She tried to soften the blow, letting me know other children in the area were the same as me. They too were given away to families or even sent to America, adoption didn’t exist back then. I wrote to the maternity hospital involved many times looking for my birth mother or some record of my birth, each response was that there was no information and they were sorry they could not advise further, sending best wishes in my search. Every governmental body I approached said the same thing, they had no record of me. My son in America was getting married, so I had to get a birth cert to apply for a passport. It turned out that I couldn’t get one because there was no record of me. Eventually, someone whose identity I won’t disclose for legal reasons, started the ball rolling for me to get a passport and finally gave me some information from records on my mother that allegedly didn’t exist. All that I have is: ‘Annie Gillespie born 1926 in Co. Tyrone, Roman catholic, children’s nurse. An only child with both parents alive. Father of Annie involved fishing. Parents are unaware of the birth. Partner 38 years old, single, known to have owned a confectionery shop.’ It was then I found out my legal name was Gillespie.”

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”I grew up and got married as Ann McKenna, and this person didn’t legally exist. I was baptised as Ann Elizabeth Gillespie in the Pro-Cathedral, and a week later Ann McKenna was baptised in the Church of the most Precious Blood, Cabra. Since then I have overcome breast cancer and I am losing my eyesight from the disease AMD. I wonder if I had known my family’s medical history could I prevent this? Naturally, I’ve always wanted to know my mother and to find out who I am. I’m going to keep searching and now I’m speaking out for “Nurse children” like me. Those who were illegally adopted, and denied the human right to know who their birth parents are, and who they are. Under Section 3 of the Data Protection Act, you have a right to find out, if a person (an individual or an organisation) holds information about you. Why should we be denied this right?”

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