Growing Stronger Together: 1990 - 2020. Barnardos Group Support Service to Women whose Children were Adopted: Personal Experiences over Three Decades
Barnardos. (2020). Growing Stronger Together: 1990 - 2020. Barnardos Group Support Service to Women whose Children were Adopted: Personal Experiences over Three Decades. https://knowledge.barnardos.ie/handle/20.500.13085/356
In 1977, Barnardos set up an Adoption Advice Helpline. Attitudes towards single mothers were slowly changing and this was reflected in developments in the adoption world. Mothers began contacting Barnardos Adoption Advice Helpline in small numbers initially. Some of those who got in touch wanted more than a phone call and asked could they come in to meet with us. We realised that the one question all of the birth mothers who contacted us had was ‘I don’t know another woman who has had a baby adopted, are there other people like me?’. Many of these women had never spoken to another mother in the same situation and, as a result, had felt very alone and isolated, unable to share with family and friends. We began to arrange one-to-one meetings between mothers to enable them to share common experiences and support one another. We soon began seeing the huge benefits to be gained from this opportunity for sharing and the idea to start the groups was hatched. Barnardos Post Adoption Service has been offering a confidential group support service to mothers since October 1990. The meetings provide an opportunity to talk about their experiences and perhaps prepare for contact with a now adult son or daughter. To mark the 30 year anniversary of the Post Adoption Service we invited mothers to send us their experiences of parting with children for adoption and of taking part in the Barnardos groups. We are very grateful to those who sent us their stories, poems, artwork and songs and for allowing us to reproduce them in this booklet. The participants showed great courage in coming to the groups and opening up about such painful issues, which are ongoing for many women. Birth mothers tell us they have found a “safe place” in Barnardos where they get support and understanding from one another and that through this, many have been helped to move forward with their lives. Hopefully these stories will add to our understanding of how things were at a particular time in our history for some women in Ireland who found themselves single and pregnant.