By Fr Jim Cogley
Having heard multiple horror stories from women who had given birth in mother and baby homes in Ireland, I was interested to hear some from the UK and if the treatment differed from what was meted out here. One lady was a nurse who at nineteen became pregnant. She had heard her mother say to her elder sister that ‘on no condition was she allowed to bring her bundle back home’, so she knew that going home was not an option. In an area close to London she found a mother and baby home that were happy to look after her. Surprisingly she recalled it as one of the most enjoyable times of her life. It was run by the Sisters of Divine Motherhood and the kindness, respect and support they gave made all the difference. After the babies were born the mothers suckled them for the first six weeks during which they were psychologically prepared to give them up for adoption. This meant that when the time came the babies were not taken from them but given freely. When the day arrived for her, she was told that by doing what she had done, and in doing what she was doing she was bringing the greatest joy imaginable to someone else and also doing the most loving thing possible for her child. The enormous sacrifice was acknowledged but was underpinned with great joy. As her life progressed she had no legacy of hurt to heal, and in more recent years has enjoyed ongoing contact with her daughter.