'Illegal adoption' | 

Meet the 70-year-old Irish woman who is searching for her long-lost twin she was told ‘had died’

Dorry Lawlor was always told her twin was stillborn but now she has reason to believe otherwise

Dorry Lawlor (70) believes her twin sister may have been illegally adopted. Photo: James Newell

Dorry Lawlor as a teenager

Dorry Lawlor as a teenager

Dorry Lawlor as a child

Dorry Lawlor (70) was told her twin sister was stillborn. Photo: James Newell

Eavan MurrayIndependent.ie

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

Three years ago, Dorry received bombshell news that shook the foundations of her life. A relative confided in Dorry of their belief that her twin sister, whom she always was told was stillborn, had survived and was believed to have been illegally adopted in Dublin.

The relative informed Dorry they had made contact with the woman they believed to be her twin – but refused to tell her who she was.

Since then, the relative has refused to answer Dorry’s questions and ceased all contact with her. Dorry has been left tormented by questions and a desperate longing to find out the truth of her past.

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

Now, as she grows older, Dorry fears time isn’t on her side, and she is desperate to track down her twin or at least find out what became of her.

“If all avenues are exhausted with no result, I can close the door on it, but only when I feel I have done as much as I can.

“I don’t want to disrupt anyone’s life. It is the last thing I want,” she said.

Today, Dorry has asked theIrish Independent to publish a collection of photographs of her during different stages of her life, in the hope it will lead to identifying her twin sister if she’s out there.

“Growing up, I didn’t really ask much but I always knew I had been a twin. I don’t ever remember not knowing.

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

“She told me that the doctors told her the baby was stillborn, and it was unfortunate. She said that back then, you didn’t ask questions.

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

“Only once did I ever ask my father. He was watching TV; I was then married with my own children. I asked him what he knew, and he said, ‘Ah sure, it wasn’t meant to be, darling’.

“So I lived with that and accepted they didn’t have any more to say about it,” she said.

Dorry Lawlor as a child

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

Looking back, Dorry believes there were clues there. “My mother was desperately homesick, and because of that, she struggled with poor mental health.

“Even at four years old, I remember her crying every day.

“We have always known that her father, my grandfather James Flanagan from Glasnevin in Dublin, visited this remote cottage in the field right after my birth. They didn’t have a warm relationship. My grandfather was very strict.

“Coming from Dublin back then was challenging. And my parents lived 25 miles from Holyhead in the middle of the countryside.

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

“I’m left questioning what his reason was for coming. I believe he took the baby back to Dublin with him.

“Did he decide this was in the best interest of everyone? The man he was wouldn’t have stood for any argument against it.

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

“I have one undeniable piece of written evidence that twins were born, and there was no stillbirth.

“In 1952, all stillborn babies in Wales had to be recorded and having exhausted every official means, no stillborn baby was ever registered to my parents.”

Dorry also discovered that hers was registered as a single birth. Her parents went on to have two more children.

After receiving the startling news, her twin survived, Dorry uncovered a medical record card from her mother’s last pregnancy that offered further proof.

The record note states that her mother had lost one baby in infancy due to gastroenteritis in Dublin before Dorry’s birth.

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

From enquiries Dorry made with two doctors, she was informed that as the details of the first child’s death were recorded, had one twin been stillborn, this too would have been documented to serve as a red flag for the two pregnancies that followed. And this information would have been self-reported by her mother to her doctor.

Dorry’s situation has an added complexity in that her sister may not even know she was adopted.

“Back then, everything wasn’t recorded as it is today.

“I know that a lot is going on in Ireland right now regarding illegal adoptions between the 1940s and 1960s, and false birth certificates were issued with the names of the adoptive parents, with no mention of the biological parents,’ she said.

Dorry also discovered last year that she was never baptised, which shocked her as her parents were devout Catholics.

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

Given her parent’s strong beliefs about the importance of having a baby baptised, she finds this very odd, especially as there was a Catholic church in the village close by.

Dorry Lawlor as a teenager

As the years have passed, the burden of unanswered questions has taken a toll on Dorry’s life and wellbeing.

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

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

“They are prepared to allow me to torment myself. It’s incredibly hurtful.

“Throughout my life, I always knew I was a twin. Even to this day, if I see twins, I’m drawn to them.

“I think of how my life could have been.

“Time is not on my side, and I truly hope I can find my truth, as I no longer know what that is.

“I feel I have to make a public appeal, or else I will be left wondering, ‘What if?’ for the rest of my life.”

Anyone with information can contact Dorry at dorrylawlor@gmail.com.


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