‘Philomena’ Mirrors One Man’s Quest For His Mother In Ireland

By Anthony M. Destefano
Newsday.

Nearly 10 years ago, Christopher Quirin of Manhasset was struck by a story about the adopted children of Ireland — a tale also recounted in one of this year’s Academy Award-nominated films, “Philomena.”

The article, which appeared in Newsday, was about Irish boys and girls who were born to single mothers and then taken away for adoption.

It dealt with the tale of Michael A. Hess, the adoptee central to the film, and jolted Quirin for a very good reason: He was once one of that diaspora of children.

Galvanized by the story, Quirin launched his own quest to find his mother, who he says was one of the many unwed women who gave up their children for adoption in Ireland decades ago.

Many of the women conceived through casual sexual relations, some by rapes or incest. They were considered sinners. The pregnant women were often placed in special mother-baby homes like Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, run by nuns in County Tipperary, where Quirin’s mother gave birth.

Though some of the children were able to remain with their mothers, Quirin and many others were taken for adoption after the young women signed their toddlers away and promised never to try to see them again. An estimated 2,000 wound up in the United States.

A difficult search

Quirin’s search wasn’t easy. The adoption process had been secret, and he said some in Ireland seemed to block his efforts to find out information. But his persistence finally paid off when, through the help of a contact in Dublin, Quirin found his mother in 2004 living in England.

“If you hadn’t printed that article, things would have been very different,” Quirin, an advertising executive, said in a recent interview. A wounded Vietnam War veteran, Quirin, 63, has lived in Manhasset for 21 years with his wife, Patrice, and their three children.

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