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Banished Babies: The Secret History of Ireland's Baby Export Business Paperback – January 1, 1997


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Paperback, January 1, 1997
$154.46 $9.98

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: New Island Books; 1St Edition edition (January 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1874597537
  • ISBN-13: 978-1874597537
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,312,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Since this story broke in 1996, the Irish media have been chasing down details of the "export" --primarily to the U.S.--of 2,000-plus infants and toddlers born to unmarried Irish mothers between the late '40s and the mid-'70s. Reporter Milotte did a TV documentary on the subject; his book incorporates new archival material released by the Irish government and the Catholic Church, as well as three involving case studies of efforts by adoptees or the mothers who reluctantly gave them up to get back together. At mid-century, both church and state in Ireland stressed shame, secrecy, and the religion of adoptive parents over all other considerations; only in the mid-'50s did Eire require confirmation that proposed parents could provide a healthy (as well as a Catholic) home for Irish kids, and several money-based schemes slipped through the Republic's lax rules. An enlightening international sidebar to studies of the consequences of open versus closed adoption. Mary Carroll

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By G. Straut on February 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
I am one of the 'Banished Babies'. I was born at Bessboro Abbey in 1955 and met my birth mother for the first time in December of 1998. My heart went out to her and reading Mike Milotte's book made me very angry that she had been put through such pain. There is no way to retrieve the forty years she lost nor is there any way to assuage the guilt and pain she felt.
My only complaint with the book is that it contains no happy endings. My twin brother and I (we were kept together) came to the US in January of 1958. We have had at least a normal life. I would call it a great life. We both have good marriages (I have two beautiful children) and rewarding careers. Both of us are college educated and I have a graduate degree.
Had I not known I was adopted, it would have made no difference. I never felt different or that I was not part of my family. I knew I was adopted and thought I was special. I didn't know all the details until later.
I now know that my mother suffered very much and I am sad and angry--but I did not suffer. 'Banished Babies' doesn't include any success stories. While the Church and the Irish government were guilty of lying and then compounding the lies by refusing to cooperate with the children searching for their mothers, neither institution has a patent on such behavior. Recent scandals in Washington demonstrate that for all to see.
I do not excuse the Church or the Irish government, but chronicling only the negative of the story doesn't make it more compelling; only less balanced. The atmosphere of intolerance towards sex and unwed mothers in Ireland in the fifties (the US wasn't that much different) also contributed to the scandal.
In spite of the shortcomings, Banished Babies helped expose the scandal and may have inspired people to find each other. My brother and I have sent copies to our birth mother and friends and family. The book will help in the healing process.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By mjc on November 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read about this book in Irish America Magazine. Despite the fact that I paid way too much for this book!! the original cost was 7 pounds, I paid over 40 american dollars I am not sorry I ordered and read the book, I am sorry that I paid so much!!
I started the book and finished it within 48hrs of starting. At times while reading I felt as if I was reading a text book, but still could not put it down. If you are interested in the workings of the Catholic Church and or in the treatment of unwed mothers in Ireland during the 50's and 60's this is the book for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Gallagher on August 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
I didn't read the 1997 edition and as someone who is touched by adoption, did intend to read this book for a while - delighted to see there wss an updated version.
Mike Milotte has put together a meticulously researched piece of work and while at times the density of the information made reading more like studying than just a leisure read, I couldn't leave the book down. The personal stories really brought tears to my eyes and a close person to me who is adopted, shared the reading of the book with me - open-mouthed.
While the scandal of the secrecy and fraudulent nature of the adoptions is beyond shocking and needed to be exposed, attitudes generally to single motherhood, the birth mothers' own families included and not just the Catholic Church, allowed the trafficking to flourish and Milotte sums up the driver of the scandal in the words:"it(the enforced adoptions) could be seen as a device that enabled Irish society at large to sustain the myth of pre-marital chastity, so important in denying women control over their own sexuality."
The words "Irish society at large" is key, in that, the birth mothers' own families and friends obviously did not support them either - pregnancy outside of marriage was taboo.
Also, I would like that Milotte gave some time to the happier outcomes of the adopted people, as I'm sure there were many, like one of the previous reviewers here.
More comprehensive reference to Irish attitudes at the time eg. where were the mothers of the birth mothers when their daughter was in need of support???
as well as some interviews from successful adoptions would have added balance to an otherwise excellent piece of writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mari T. Steed on January 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book has served as a a first look for many Irish-US adopted adults, and is one of the best-researched pieces available. Author Mike Milotte has recently updated the 1997 original, and I was privileged to read the updated chapters before publishing. It never ceases to astonish me. I do hope the second edition is printed in enough numbers to satisfy demand -- copies of the original were becoming scarcer than unicorns and trading at pretty brisk prices! But well done, Mike.

fgor anyone looking for advice, support or trace assistance, please visit [...] or feel free to join the Adoption Rights Alliance or Banished Babies groups on Facebook. There are also groups for Sean Ross Abbey and Castlepollard 'alumni'.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Leah on December 8, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A pattern is emerging within the sacred walls of the Catholic Church. It seems that if you have sinned, no one ever need know about your sin. These poor women had their infants snatched from their arms in order that they could "get on with their lives" just as so many priests were shuffled from place to place so that they could "get on with their lives." In both cases, no one ever need know.

For the priests, someone certainly should have known. For the women, they were being punished for the perfectly natural human acts that never should have been categorized as sin.
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