Illegal adoption: ‘My search for the twin I was told had died’

Dorry Lawlor has lived a full and largely happy life. She is 70 years old and loved by her children, family and community.

Three years ago, Dorry received bombastic news that shook her life to the core. A relative confided in Dorry her belief that her twin sister, who she was always told was stillborn, survived and was believed to have been illegally adopted in Dublin.

The relative told Dorry they had been in touch with the woman they believed to be their twin sister – but refused to tell her who she was.

Since then, the relative has refused to answer Dorry’s questions and has cut off all contact with her. Dorry is tormented by questions and a desperate need to find out the truth about her past.

Dorry, or Dorothy as she was registered at birth, is the child of Irish emigrants. She was born in January 1952 in a remote and isolated cottage in North Wales with no running water or electricity. Her parents, who were from Dublin, emigrated to Wales while her mother was pregnant with her and her twin.

Now that she is getting older, Dorry fears that time is not on her side and is desperate to track down her twin, or at least find out what has become of her.

“When all avenues have been exhausted without result, I can close the door, but only when I feel I’ve done as much as I can.

“I don’t want to disturb anyone’s life. That’s the last thing I want,” she said.

Today Dorry asked that Irish Independent to post a collection of photos of her at different stages of her life in the hope that this will lead to the identification of her twin sister if she is out there.

“Growing up, I didn’t really ask much, but I always knew I was a Gemini. I can’t remember not knowing.

“Growing up, I asked my mother several times what happened and I always got the same answer.

“She told me the doctors told her the baby was stillborn and that was unfortunate. She said that no questions were asked at the time.

“She also said she never saw the baby. Then she would end the conversation and move on to something else.

“Only once did I ask my father. He watched TV; I was then married with my own children. I asked him what he knew and he said, “Sure, it shouldn’t be darling.”

“So I lived with that and accepted that they had nothing more to say about it,” she said.

Then, three years ago, the relative told Dorry that they believed her twin survived and due to the family’s dire financial situation in January 1952 when she was born, a twin was adopted.

Looking back, Dorry thinks there were clues there. “My mother was desperately homesick and struggled with poor mental health as a result.

“Even when she was four years old, I remember that she cried every day.

“We have always known that her father, my grandfather James Flanagan of Glasnevin in Dublin, came to visit this isolated cottage in the field as soon as I was born. They didn’t have a warm relationship. My grandfather was very strict.

“Coming from Dublin back then was a challenge. And my parents lived 25 miles from Holyhead in the middle of the country.

“And given their relationship, he certainly wouldn’t have made the trip for love.

“I wonder what his reason for coming was. I think he took the baby to Dublin.

“Has he decided that this is in everyone’s best interest? The man he was would not have argued against it.

“We believe an illegal adoption may have taken place in Dublin.

“I have indisputable written evidence that twins were born and there was no stillbirth.

“In 1952 all stillborn babies in Wales had to be registered and after all official means had been exhausted no stillborn baby was ever registered with my parents.”

Dorry also discovered that her birth was registered as a single birth. Her parents had two more children.

After receiving the shocking news that her twin survived, Dorry discovered a medical record from her mother’s recent pregnancy that provided further evidence.

The memorandum states that prior to Dorry’s birth in Dublin, her mother had lost an infancy baby to gastroenteritis.

It then records other normal pregnancies, including in capital letters the normal birth and delivery of twins in 1952.

From inquiries Dorry made to two doctors, she was told that when the details of the first child’s death were recorded, that too would have been documented to serve as a red flag for the two following pregnancies if a twin were stillborn would have been. And her mother herself would have reported this information to her doctor.

Complicating Dorry’s situation is that her sister may not even know she was adopted.

“Back then, not everything was received as it is today.

“I know a lot is happening in Ireland right now between the 1940s and 1960s in terms of illegal adoptions and false birth certificates were issued with the names of the adoptive parents without mentioning the birth parents,” she said.

Dorry also discovered last year that she had never been baptized, which shocked her as her parents were devout Catholics.

Her older surviving siblings were baptized in Dublin, where they were born.

She finds this very strange given her parents’ firm belief in the importance of having a baby baptized, especially as there was a Catholic church near the village.


Dorry Lawlor as a teenager

Over the years, the burden of unanswered questions has taken a toll on Dorry’s life and well-being.

“The most important impact on me is knowing that someone has information and is withholding it from me.

“I find that so difficult to understand. This person could help me either move on or put it to bed.

“They are willing to allow me to torture myself. It’s incredibly hurtful.

“All my life I have always known that I am a Gemini. To this day, when I see twins, I still feel drawn to them.

“I think about how my life could have been.

“Time is not on my side and I really hope I can find my truth as I don’t know what that is anymore.

“I feel like I have to make a public appeal or I’m like, ‘What if?’ for the rest of my life.”

Anyone with information can contact Dorry at Illegal adoption: ‘My search for the twin I was told had died’

Fry Electronics Team

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