‘Mum faked my birth cert so she could put me up for adoption’

Siobhan in a screen grab from 'Adoption Stories'
Siobhan in a screen grab from 'Adoption Stories'

An Irish woman has told of her shock at discovering her married biological parents illegally put her up for adoption over 50 years ago by faking her birth certificate.

After years of false leads, Dublin mum Siobhan Kelehan Harman told how she learned her birth mother used an alias, Violet Murphy, to pose as a single mother giving up her illegitimate child for adoption in Newry in 1964.

The mother-of-three, from Knocklyon in Dublin, opens up in TV3’s new series Adoption Stories.

Siobhan said it took her years to find out from her biological mother that her natural parents were actually married when she was adopted.

She said: “When she told me I nearly died. I knew it, but I couldn’t believe she was owning up and saying the words.”

Siobhan, who had a happy childhood growing up with her brother and sister in Rathfarnham in Dublin, who were also adopted, didn’t have much interest in finding out about her natural mother until she had her own three daughters.

But she wasn’t expecting to find out her parents were married when she was born and is still in the dark about the reason for her adoption.

The documentary details how her mother gave birth to her in Newry under a false name in August 1964 before giving her child to an adoption agency in Northern Ireland, who were aware she was using an alias on the birth cert and had her real name on the file.

 “She used a false name because in Ireland back then you could only give up a child for adoption if it was illegitimate.

“I did say to her did she know she wasn’t supposed to give up a child if she was married,” said Siobhan.

“There was days when I was so down. I was frustrated with the adoption board here that someone was allowed to use a false name. You cannot give a false name on a State document. That is wrong.”

The Dublin woman, who is married to Dermot, had initially believed her married mother had given her up for adoption because she had an affair, but was astonished when her mother admitted when they finally met in recent years that she had been married to her father when she was born.

“I asked: ‘Who is my father?’ She looked at me completely puzzled and mentioned her husband. She said: ‘Who did you think it was?’ I went into shock for a couple of weeks.”

She said her mother has never explained why she gave her up for adoption. She also said her mother denied being her mother on their first meeting.

“I looked at her and said: ‘My God I know it’s you.’ She said: ‘I’m not her.’ She kept it up that someone had robbed her identity.”

She said a nun who worked in the mother and baby home at the time of Siobhan’s birth finally confirmed to her that the lady she had met was her mother.

“This particular nun said she remembered my birth mother as all the girls were single, but she was the married one pretending to be single.

 “I had a picture of my birth mother and she said it was her. I wrote quite a strong letter and she did agree to meet me. The first thing I said was: ‘Are you still going to deny who you are?’

“It was her son who said: ‘No, we are going to tell you the truth.’”

Despite meeting with her biological brother and mother, she said she had little contact with them now except for an odd card.

“My own parents and my family are so supportive. They think I am relaxed and happier now that I have found out more about myself.

“As my father says ‘They don’t know what they are missing.’ And I think that sums it all up.”

Adoption Stories will air on Thursday at 8.30pm on TV3.