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18-09-2018, 16:46   #1
Meursault
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Adoption query

Hi All,

I am currently working away on a family tree, and it seems there is a chance that one of my grandmothers (on my mother's side) may have been adopted.

I contact the HSE (Births, Marriages, and Deaths) for a copy of her birth cert and they have no record of it.

I am a member of findmypast.ie and I could find no record of her on the website, even though I am certain of the year she was born, her parents' names, where she was born, her marriage date, etc.

There does not appear to be any record of her, until she got married in 1936.

I am just wondering if you could help with the following:

1. Is it possible not to have a birth cert? My mother believes it is. Having spoken to her older sisters, she suspects that my grandmother's actual biological mother was in fact her aunt, who became pregnant "out of wedlock". The aunt then unofficial gave my grandmother to her sister and her husband, to raise.

2. Would there not have been some suspicion when my grandmother entered school or got married, if she did not have a birth cert?

3. How likely is it to confirm her biological parents?

4. Is there any other advice anyone can give to investigate this further? I have already reached out to the General office in Roscommon. They told me there was no official adoption in place until 1952, and they hold no records of adoption pre-1932. I find this staggering, to be honest! There must be thousands of people therefore, without any official documents of their birth??

Thanks in advance,

M.
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18-09-2018, 20:17   #2
Vetch
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It is possible not to have a birth cert. My grandfather was born in the 1920s and his birth is not registered civilly. There are no unusual circumstances about his parentage. Birth certs probably weren't looked for for school but I'd expect her baptism should have been sought if she got married in a Catholic church. I'd try and get her baptism record and see what that says.
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19-09-2018, 08:08   #3
Meursault
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It is possible not to have a birth cert. My grandfather was born in the 1920s and his birth is not registered civilly. There are no unusual circumstances about his parentage. Birth certs probably weren't looked for for school but I'd expect her baptism should have been sought if she got married in a Catholic church. I'd try and get her baptism record and see what that says.
Thanks Vetch. I am working on the baptism details, so hopefully that will shed some light.
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19-09-2018, 09:15   #4
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Thanks Vetch. I am working on the baptism details, so hopefully that will shed some light.
Re the birth cert, I haven't been able to find one for my granny either, even though they exist for her older siblings.
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19-09-2018, 10:24   #5
Meursault
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Re the birth cert, I haven't been able to find one for my granny either, even though they exist for her older siblings.
Its bizarre, isn't it? Apparently my grandmother wasn't really aware that she had no birth cert until she went looking for a copy, to get a passport, when she was in her 60s. My mum was able to sort something out, using her confirmation details!

Different times, I guess.
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19-09-2018, 10:33   #6
p15574
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Having spoken to her older sisters, she suspects that my grandmother's actual biological mother was in fact her aunt, who became pregnant "out of wedlock". The aunt then unofficial gave my grandmother to her sister and her husband, to raise.
I wonder if this is pertinent to my case also? My granny was born between the 1901 & 1911 censuses and by the 1911, her father was gone. I can't find any death record for him either so, much as I'd hate to 'cast aspersions' on my great-granny, I wonder if perhaps my granny was born > 9 months after my great-grandfather left the scene - and perhaps the arrival of the new child was kept quiet? Like in your case? If I could only find that death record!
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19-09-2018, 10:36   #7
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My dad's (b 1918) birth cert wasn't applied for for months after his birth, by which time both his parents and the midwife had forgotten what his date of birth was; so they guessed!

I suppose it wasn't all that important until the welfare state started paying child benefit!
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19-09-2018, 10:42   #8
Meursault
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I wonder if this is pertinent to my case also? My granny was born between the 1901 & 1911 censuses and by the 1911, her father was gone. I can't find any death record for him either so, much as I'd hate to 'cast aspersions' on my great-granny, I wonder if perhaps my granny was born > 9 months after my great-grandfather left the scene - and perhaps the arrival of the new child was kept quiet? Like in your case? If I could only find that death record!
It could well be. If you know the area she was born, then maybe you could track down where she was baptised?

By the sounds of it, there were two options back then if you got pregnant and you weren't married. Either someone in the family - example an older sister, who was already married - took the baby in some form of unofficial adoption within the family, and the real mother was sent on a boat to the UK, or wherever, or else the more depressing option which probably meant both baby and mother ended up in some institution such as the Magdelane Laundery?

I assume you would be aware at this stage if a direct grandparent/great grandparent of yours ended up in one of these awful places? Chances are, only someone very close to the family would "take on the burden" of a child that wasn't theirs?

From what my mum now admits to, that sounds like what happened in my own grandmother's case, because there was a young grand aunt of her's that was sent off to the UK around the time my grandmother was born.
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19-09-2018, 11:31   #9
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It could well be. If you know the area she was born, then maybe you could track down where she was baptised?

By the sounds of it, there were two options back then if you got pregnant and you weren't married. Either someone in the family - example an older sister, who was already married - took the baby in some form of unofficial adoption within the family, and the real mother was sent on a boat to the UK, or wherever, or else the more depressing option which probably meant both baby and mother ended up in some institution such as the Magdelane Laundery?

I assume you would be aware at this stage if a direct grandparent/great grandparent of yours ended up in one of these awful places? Chances are, only someone very close to the family would "take on the burden" of a child that wasn't theirs?

From what my mum now admits to, that sounds like what happened in my own grandmother's case, because there was a young grand aunt of her's that was sent off to the UK around the time my grandmother was born.
I've tried to find the baptism, with no luck, and no response to an email to the parish priest - I plan to try in person at the church sometime, but I've only been in the area twice in the last 35 years or so! Sometime. In this case, she was born into a family with older siblings already hence why she wasn't passed on to someone else. Unless!...she was born to someone else and my "great granny" took her in...I had never considered that possibility before. Either way, it might explain my mother's recent DNA results having a much lower level of "Irishness" than I expected!

Anyway, I didn't mean to hijack your thread, I was just pointing out similarities in case they were helpful to you.
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19-09-2018, 13:28   #10
Meursault
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I've tried to find the baptism, with no luck, and no response to an email to the parish priest - I plan to try in person at the church sometime, but I've only been in the area twice in the last 35 years or so! Sometime. In this case, she was born into a family with older siblings already hence why she wasn't passed on to someone else. Unless!...she was born to someone else and my "great granny" took her in...I had never considered that possibility before. Either way, it might explain my mother's recent DNA results having a much lower level of "Irishness" than I expected!

Anyway, I didn't mean to hijack your thread, I was just pointing out similarities in case they were helpful to you.
Not at all. This is very interesting. Its a hot topic at the moment I'd say, especially considering the numbers doing DNA testing and family trees. This DNA testing is going to throw up a lot of shocks for people!

I'd say another good source of information would be to chat to your eldest relatives. Its amazing how much they remember when you get them going on the topic. Its also a really nice way to re-connect with them. I know in my own case, once I started on the family tree, there wasn't much information from my parents and other relatives, but as i discovered details on some of the genealogy websites, it kind of jogged the memories of my family.

Also, if your grandparent was married, confirmed, held a passport at some stage, they must have had some documentation to prove they were who they said they were. It may not be a State birth cert but it might nevertheless throw up some clues.

Anyway, the best of luck. Let me know if you have any luck.
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19-09-2018, 15:48   #11
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The same lack of birth cert has almost confirmed what I'd been told about my father's family.

A few months back, I had a chat with a cousin who is 22 years older than me and with a good memory of the family unit back then. He surprised me when he told me that his mother and her 3 female siblings were not natural children to our grandparents, but 'taken in'. The story is clouded in some doubt, in that 'as far as he knew' my father and an older brother were their own natural children. However, at the time, I wondered whether this cousin was just telling me what he thought I wanted to hear.

With my father's and mother's date of birth, I went to the GRO last week and did a general search. Within minutes, my mother's record was found, but no sign of my father's. Even trying different quarters and years either side of his assumed date of birth. This created the rising suspicion that my father was also taken in and raised by my 'Nan'. Not having any details about the other brother, I didn't wish to waste time to attempt to look for him, as I had plenty more to search for already.

There is no doubt about the girls in the family, only for the details of their origin. A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with an elderly lady nearby, who knew the family. She confirmed that all 4 girls in that family were 'taken in' but they were of different parentage. However, they all went by the same surname, which was not the family name. I'm struggling to understand how this can be. if they're all children of different families, and taken into another family, how can they all be known as the same surname that's different to the fostering/adoptive family?


She named one family and specifically, the mother of one of the 4 girls. She was very certain of this because she was related to them on her mother's side. I've found that named woman's birth cert, b1900, who would have been about 18-19 when she had a child of her own that was subsequently raised by my Nan. The curiosity is, as mentioned above, that this surname is that which all the 'adopted' children were known as, as distinct from my Nan's name.

The search continues. Most likely with a return visit to the lady in question to clarify and verify some things and hopefully pick up further info she may have remembered since.


Similarly, I don't want to hijack your thread, but it's the only other thread here that relates to the same problems - the lack of records of those who were adopted pre 1932.

I look forward to news of any progress you make and keep you posted on any progress of my own.
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19-09-2018, 21:02   #12
Meursault
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That's really interesting DamoRed.

I know of a separate case in my own extended family. My own godfather was adopted by my father's cousins' family. Rather than take the family name he kept his own family name, even though this would have been in the 1960s, and adoption would have been a formal procedure by then. It was a sad story actually, because he was sent to Artane as a child. It was from there that he was adopted. My dad told me that he never spoke about it, so god only knows what he witnessed or what he was subjected to in there.

Anyway, presumably because he was old enough to realise that he was being adopted, he kept his own biological family name. Perhaps its the same in your case? Maybe the eldest of the three girls was aware of her own family name and kept it, and then the younger ones just used the same name, knowing that they were in the same set of circumstances, without actually knowing their own details?

There are so many cases such as these, that are coming to light now. They were exceptionally hard times back then.
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20-09-2018, 12:06   #13
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I know we've swapped a couple of messages already in my thread Meursault, but just to add, my Grandad is marked in the 1901 Census as the 'Adopted Son' of the head of the household, and he's 18 in that Census and has kept his birthname and not taken on the name of the family he lived with. In the 1911 Census he's with the same family (though in a different house on the same street) and he's listed as Boarder. I've no idea yet how he got from his birth family to his adopted family, or how 'official' or not that adoption was.

That's all assuming that the guy in the Census is my Grandad of course!
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20-09-2018, 12:56   #14
Meursault
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I know we've swapped a couple of messages already in my thread Meursault, but just to add, my Grandad is marked in the 1901 Census as the 'Adopted Son' of the head of the household, and he's 18 in that Census and has kept his birthname and not taken on the name of the family he lived with. In the 1911 Census he's with the same family (though in a different house on the same street) and he's listed as Boarder. I've no idea yet how he got from his birth family to his adopted family, or how 'official' or not that adoption was.

That's all assuming that the guy in the Census is my Grandad of course!
Jaysus, you have me worried now about the accuracy of the census! I wonder was there an indifferent attitude to all this back then, like they had more important stuff to worry about, than filling in these forms properly!? Add to the equation also that this might have been seen as "British interference" in Ireland. Given that all census returns prior to 1901 were basically destroyed, i assume they weren't taken all that seriously, which is a real pity for those of us who are interested in this stuff.
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20-09-2018, 13:06   #15
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My brother-in-law tells me that in both his parents' families, in rural Mayo, the inclination on seeing someone coming to the door on official looking business, would be to hide and not answer, on the assumption they were looking for something that wasn't theirs, and thus no census records would exist in their case, even if no records were ever destroyed.


Another curiosity is, if the boys were also 'adopted', why would they be given the family name when the girls were not? Or if they were originally called by any other surname, at what point, and in what circumstances did they officially take the family name?
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