Search icon


29th Feb 2024

‘At 53 years of age, I finally got my birth cert’

Anna Martin

birth cert

Louise Martin is many things; a nurse, a wife, my mammy and an adopted child

Though for many years the latter part wasn’t Louise’s main concern, her parents had always been honest about how they had become a family and celebrated it.

“I was always told I was adopted, there was no issue behind it. I was told I was a very special child, that I had been picked out by my parents, which was funny that they chose me from a room of babies,” she says with a smile crossing her face as she remembers.

“Which possibly is true, though it sounds bizarre going back to the late 1960s, it was a much different process, there could have been money involved.”

Louise pauses for a second as she thinks about what she just said, almost as if she just understood how odd her words would sound to people nowadays.

“And to be honest, I think there was money involved, it wasn’t ever denied by my mother. So I think possibly I was bought basically, by my parents. Now, having said that that’s a kind of mad statement to make.

birth cert
Credit: Getty

“But it does seem like money was transferred between the adoption agency with the nuns in Castle Pollard and my parents. Even though I was born in Castle Pollard, I was adopted through an agency that was located on Haddington Road in Dublin.”

So for years, Louise went on this way, mostly unaffected by how she came to be with her mother and father, sometimes facing stigma when people found out she was adopted and using a different birth cert to the ones we’re used to seeing.

Louise met Micheal, they fell in love, got married, had kids, their kids grew up and that just seemed like how life was going to be until one day it wasn’t.

After the Birth Information and Tracing Act 2022 was signed into law on June 30th, 2022, Louise applied for her birth cert and more or less forgot about it.

That was until the latter half of the year when an email landed in her inbox that told her a story she never had the chance to hear before.

“Getting my birth cert was a big shock,” Louise says, her voice sounding as if she almost still can’t believe it.

“Because suddenly, I’m not who I thought I was, I am, but I’m not. I have a different name and you start to wonder, ‘Do I apply for a passport with this name? Do I have to change my marriage cert?’

“None of which I’ve looked into, I have to leave to sit, I’ve left it sit for a year and four months now at this stage.”

birth cert
Credit: Getty

When asked the question that would pop into most people’s minds; if she would like to reconnect with her biological mother now. For the mother of four the answer is as complex as the situation she finds herself in.

“I don’t know if I want to open old wounds [for her bio mother]. It was nice to get a name, that was the big thing but there wasn’t a father’s name which I assume meant she wasn’t married,” Louise explains.

“My mother was 19. So there’s a possibility she’s still alive. Do I want to rake up old wounds? Do I have siblings? Yeah, maybe I don’t know. I don’t want anyone hurt because their family story has been told one way.

“This lady may have married again and had children, she may not have ever told her husband that she had a family and that in itself would be very traumatic for anybody.”

If there is one thing Louise wants to know, it’s her family medical history.

When it comes to visiting the doctor, the nurse can’t give any details of genetic conditions and for her children, this means an incomplete history.

“The only thing you would like to know is, is there any illnesses associated with family. So it was a big thing when we used to bring the kids to doctors, or they were going to appointments, you know, the run-of-the-mill? Is there a history of this in my family, I’d always have to say I don’t know.

birth cert
birth cert Credit: Getty

“And they kind of look at you, that was a big stigma I would have found even myself when I was going to have my own kids.

“They’d say, ‘well, is there any history in your family of intellectual disability? Is there any Rhesus factor?’

“The usual questions they would ask, just to make sure that my pregnancies were safe. And I couldn’t answer those questions, that was very difficult.”

Even if Louise wanted to find out more, the window of opportunity has long since closed, leaving adoptees with no time to come to terms with what they learned.

“The government have made it very hurtful, when it could have could have been a nice process, where you had the chance to mull over the information after seeing your birth cert.

“Once you actually decided to apply, it was all tick-the-box or given the application form itself was which was something like, ‘do you want to contact them or do you not?’

“These are things you don’t know at the time. And to put a timescale with hours or weeks is horrendous.

“They’ve kept this information for 50 odd years for some people, 60 odd years, and then they have the neck to give you a timescale of six weeks.”