Legislation introduced in Britain in 1950 forbade this manner of adoption, so the reason given for the child’s journey was a three-month “holiday”, as Home Secretary Sir Maxwell Fyfe told the House of Commons on 15 November, nine days after the ‘adoption’.
From an Irish point of view there was nothing more that could be done once the passport had been granted, for “the strict rules applicable in such cases (in the UK) were complied with” (it should be noted that, unlike the vast majority of American adoptions of Irish children during this period, the child in question was not born outside wedlock).
At the time the then Department of External Affairs (now Foreign Affairs) saw its role as being purely administrative in nature – it supplied each child with a passport, leaving the suitability or otherwise of each potential adoptive family to the Catholic Church, in whose institutions these illegitimate (as they were officially described) children invariably resided.
Catholic Charities Throughout the papers it is made clear that the adoption of Irish children born to single parents by Americans was seen entirely as a good thing by Ireland’s senior ministers.
THE DUBIOUS NATURE of the process surrounding the adoption of Irish children by American citizens in the 1950s has come to light with the publication of foreign policy papers dating from that decade.