Baby Ann

By | November 20, 2006

John Waters reads the Supreme Court judgement and highlights some issues ignored by the meeja last week but I think were maybe published in one Sunday paper (can’t remember which one).

“Many disturbing details emerged in the judgments which were left unreported or glossed over in media attempts to use the case as a battering ram against the Constitution. Several of the judges noted the shameful treatment of the parents by some of those organising this botched adoption. Amazingly, it emerges that some of the HSE social workers involved were already acquainted with the couple seeking to adopt.

Does this not amount to a clear conflict of interest? Mr Justice Hardiman pointedly observed: “It was always unfortunate, and became more unfortunate as time and events moved on, that the proposed adopters were not, as I presume they normally would be, strangers to the parents’ social worker. When this fact is viewed in association with some of the language used, an element of alarm on the part of the mother is in my view understandable, not simply on the basis of the emotions which might be attributed to her, but on a wholly objective basis. Equally, she felt that she was being stalled and I cannot find that that feeling was objectively unreasonable either.”

Much media coverage sought to portray the parents as taking advantage of a technicality within the Constitution and enhancing their rights by virtue of what, it was implied, was a bogus marriage. Reading the judgments, the issues that emerge are the parents’ subjection to enormous pressures, unwarranted delays, denial of information about their rights and emotional blackmail as part of the effort to dissuade them from reclaiming their daughter after they decided to do so in September 2005.

The trial judge, Mr Justice MacMenamin, in all material contexts accepted the evidence of social workers rather than the parents.

Mr Justice Geoghegan drily observed: “I think that where there was a conflict of evidence of that kind the evidence must be regarded as inconclusive.” I beg readers to seek out the judgments on the internet (the Court Services website makes this as difficult as possible, so just Google for “baby Ann Supreme Court judgments”). What emerges, with much else, is that, in pursuit of a pseudo-progressive agenda, the media vacated its duty to report the facts.”

I suppose his point is that when the mother sought to take the baby back after one year, that the social workers ganged up on her and persuaded her against it because they knew the adoptive parents and were trying to protect them. The notes in the natural mother’s case file from that point on were apparently very negative towards her. I must do as he suggests and read the rest of the case notes. See the problem with Waters is that because he is so unreasonable people don’t take him seriously. But sometimes he DOES have a point. Maybe the meeja read the judgements, picked out the bits they liked, that’s what we read and thus form our opinions but meanwhile huge chunks which balance the story a bit have been left out.

However, I think everyone is agreed on one thing – the system for adoption is ridiculous. Two consents, the second a year into the child’s life is just cruelty on the prospective adoptive parents. I’ve said it before, adoption is NOT child stealing. If you decide to give up a child, you may regret it, but we all do things we regret. Fixing your mistakes shouldn’t come at the price of inflicting enormous pain on otherwise innnocent people, ie adoptive parents and the child.

29 thoughts on “Baby Ann

  1. gerry

    John Waters might be right but isn’t the basic principle at stake here that the the wealthy should be allowed take the children of the poor or did I misunderstand the your Madonna arguments. The social workers and media were only trying to give the child a better life. And maybe Ann when she is older might have gone back to her poor birth parents’ area and try and help them: we’ll never know.

  2. Ronan

    It is good to see some comment from someone who actually read the judgements. The media are too fond of soundbites, and with so many to choose from in this case it would be beyond them to try and analysie the judgement. That the balanced comment comes from John Waters who is not fond of the judiciary and their approach to Family cases actually gives some of his other comments more creedence. Sometimes I think that the media get away with murder picking sound bites and trying to sensationalise everything, but then we all buy their product! A tribunal to investigate the media anyone?

  3. Sarah Post author

    eeeeeeeeeeeeeeuuuuw. sneaky, Gerry, sneaky 😉

    No, the basic principal in not the rich taking the poor’s children. The basic principal is people of their own free will giving their children up for adoption and the adoptive parents being treated as kidnappers. I’m still firmly on the side of the adoptive parents. Waters’ column was useful because he brought to light some facts of the case that had been ignored by the MSM.

    What do people want? Will we just abolish adoption? If you get pregnant here you can’t have an abortion and you HAVE to keep the child whether you want it or not because natural parents are always the best parents. Please.

    I’ll tell you one thing. If I couldn’t have children I’d be very reluctant to adopt an Irish child if this is the system. I’d definitely be off to Malawi.

  4. John of Dublin

    Yes, it’s a delicate subject and you can see the challenges for all parties and especially the child. It would seem obvious that the adoption process and settling should be quicker and cleaner than it is now. However it has to take a certain amount of time to make sure it works in favour of the child. It’s possible that it’s once again not a case of us having particularly bad law – but not administering it right.

    I had a rare listen to Gerry Ryan one morning last week, he’s a former solicitor I believe. He mused that the case had a Dickension feel about it – “Ah, come with me child!” as the toddler is pulled away from it’s familiar surroundings to a new life. We can see his point, the case went on too long to an extent that the child is going to suffer if either option is exercised. It’s a matter of which is lesser of two evils now.

  5. Paul Newton

    What emerges, with much else, is that, in pursuit of a pseudo-progressive agenda, the media vacated its duty to report the facts.”

    Shock! Horror! When did this start? I’m appalled that the independence and integrity of the media is called into question, you even suggest they may be following an agenda?

    Heresy! Heresy!

  6. gerry

    Well to be fair Paul, it’s a fairly recent and sad development in this country where there is now no expectation that any news is being reportred straight and its being manipulated by the priority it’s given or or the interpretation put on it to follow some agenda.

    Today’s papers were full of a ‘Paedo on the loose” story. WTF? Presumably he has been on the loose for some months/years previously as well. Presumably there are dozens of like-minded people out there as well. What is the reaction to this story supposed to be? To lock up all children until he is caught? It is entirely irresponsible reporting.

    If we stop complaining then you give in altogether although as the world knows traditional media is dying which might be no bad thing.

  7. Niall

    The case should have been as simple as it was complicated.

    For all the talk of private investigators and social workers, the rights of the child come first. Taking a child away from with whom it has an attachment should be fucking criminal, at least when the child is not likely to be harmed by those people.

  8. Eimear

    I think these details were actually also in some of the daily papers, perhaps on Saturday (as it happens I saw the Indo, Times and Examiner so not sure which). And bits of them had been referred to piecemeal fashion in other stories.

    The gap between withdrawal of consent and the High and Supreme Court cases, which may have been attributable to “stalling”, would probably have ensured custody for the adoptive/foster parents even if no adoption order could be made, if the birth parents hadn’t got married. This is pretty much what has happened in previous cases.

  9. faolain

    Why do we assume that a child has to ‘belong’ to one set of parents (or any one parent)?

    For example, in some societies, a child will have more than one father and mother, being reared by a group of adults (usually female to a certain age, then, if a boy, by the men’s group). The child may not even be aware which is her/his ‘birth’ mother and certainly not the father. One of the benefits of this system is that is very rare to have orphans, as there is always another ‘mother’ to take over.

    If we are going to have a referendum, perhaps we could examine the many possible permutations of parenting and suggest guidelines for what is good for children and what is not? What about joint custody? By exes, by grandparents, by adult siblings?

    One variation I know of is where a mother who remarried bought a house next door to her child’s father (the ex-husband), so that the child could have daily contact with both of her birth parents.

    A proposal was made during the UN International Year of the Family that all marriages should be subject to 5-year renewable contracts, except if a child was born, when the contract should be enforceable (except in extraordinary circumstances) for 18 years.

    Of course, that was at a time before one third of Irish births occurred outside marriage. What would be the equivalent protection for the child of a single parent?

    Would anyone like to make some sensible (and sensitive) suggestions?

  10. John of Dublin

    You know there is much merit in what Faolain says for tricky cases like this one, and indeed other cases.

    Actually, I’ve a married distant cousin and they adopted a child. They deliberately kept contact the birth parents as the child grew up and the child knew them etc. There was no tension at all. The lad is a married adult now and is comfortable with his birth parents but he sees his adopted parents as being his real family as they brought him up.

    I’m not saying this always works but it has merits in certain cases. It could often be a very “child friendly” solution as indicated by Faolain.

  11. Sarah Post author

    actually, the grandparents one is interesting. It’s really sad that when marriages break up, grandparents often lose access to a child. I’d definitely support something that gave them rights.

  12. Julie

    I too am still on the side of the adoptive parents. I feel gravely sorry for anyone forced by circumstances to give a child up. But if you give a child to a happy home, they become it’s new family and you can’t decide 1 year later to change your mind. Thid child has a family (with it’s adoptive parents). The birth parents should grieve and move on and if their marriage is genuine they can some day start their family and find happiness that the adoptive family and baby anne share.

  13. catherine

    I was in favour of the adoptive parents at first, that is until I realised the part that social services played in it.Yes, they delayed the entire process for months to get things their way.This is what they always do and it has nothing to do with the interests of the child.I know these so called people..many are heartless and cruel and try mainly to get children adopted into old Patriarchial style families.These old stlye play happy families are no use to a child of these modern times.Social workers refer to these children as their they own them.I was asked to hand my children over as they/social workers considered non Catholics and Europeans as a bad influence for my children.If that is an excuse then Heaven help us.Once again I was threatened that the children would be locked up and given Electric Shock Treatment to normalise them as they were too strong willed.The worst thing of all was that the Judge accepted every word the social workers said,until I sacked my lawyer and stood up and insisted on getting the truth to him. Then the HSE lawyers just kept answering comment.. and that was that.I feel sure that Baby Ann will adjust perfectly to her natural parents too. Children just need lots of love. It does not matter if this comes from natural or adoptive parents/carers.

  14. Sara

    A child is really a free child of the Universe and is not to be owned like a possession.This possession idea did not always exist.We are all members of one family/Human family where the idea is to care for each other. Somehow, we have narrowed this caring down and only seem to bother with those inside our own home.Many moons ago all children were cared for by the group or tribe.This meant that there were many carers and also any adult had the right to correct any child who was misbehaving too.
    It is perfectly possible for Baby Annto have weekly contact with her adoptive parents too. Why not????

  15. em

    The parents expressed doubt on handing the child over, why did the social workers not provide councilling to be sure they were making the right decision. They were falsely promised an open adoption with visitation rights and the mother eventually demanded the child back on realising that would not be respected. This was before the adoption was finalised and until then she is entitled to change her mind. They have such long waiting periods for a reason. These parents were demonised and condemned to protect the adoptors not the child. The case was purposely stalled. It is in the interests of the child to remain in the biological family where possible.Had she been brought up by her adopters she may never have met her future siblings. I lost two of my older sisters to adoption and while we are in the tiny minorty of reunions to have worked out well you always wonder what if we’d been together.Its far more difficult for them.Its tragic for those who lose their siblings forever.Children are not objects and it does matter who brings them up.Nature is important despite what infertile couples like to believe. ps all the adopted people i know supported the biological parents.

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  17. lizza

    I hate adoption I was adopted and felt neglected by everybody including my adoptive parents and because this may be rare to be adopted and then neglected by adoptive parents makes my situation even worse because there is no way out of neglect how awful

  18. lizza

    everybody ignores me and i dont know why I am a good person or do you have to be a bad person to get any kind of attention in this dam world

  19. lizza


  20. lizza

    I FEEL like a ghost wathcing everybody else

  21. lizza

    I FEEL like a ghost wathcing everybody else

  22. lizza

    I agree I dont think my adoptive parents stole me even though i wish they would have then maybe I wouldnt have had to feel so rejected in life and neglected instead I think they adopted me just so they could look good to the public of people they wanted people to like them so they adopted a child even though they didnt really want me they did get alot of friends which is what they wanted there friends came first

  23. lizza

    I think people that give there children up for adoption do it because they want to I dont feel that people are forced to give there children up for adoption but I do think that people that adopt children dont always adopt children for good reasons and thats whats wrong with adoption I dont think adoptive parents steal children i think parents that give there children up just dont want the responsability of rasing a child there needs to be better laws to protect children from this kind of problem

  24. lizza

    you got two sets of people that dont care about the child you got the adoptive parents who adopt a child so they can look good to the public or for other poor reasons and then you got the people that give up the child because they dont want the responsability no wonder i never was loved

  25. lizza

    nobody want this child the laws should protect the children not the adults

  26. lizza

    evrybody is tossing this child around because no one wants it

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