Colleen Anderson was born in the infamous mother and baby home Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea on August 4, 1965 and was sent to the US when she was three
AN Irish woman who was sent for adoption in the US has told how she wants to start a new life in the country of her birth.
Colleen Anderson was born in the infamous mother and baby home Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea on August 4, 1965.
She was named Josephine by her mother, who became pregnant as a result of rape when she was just 14.
At three years of age, the abbey’s Sr Hildegarde McNulty sent Colleen on a flight to the US where she was taken in by an adoptive couple in Illinois.
The controversial nun was also instrumental in selling Philomena Lee’s son Anthony to America, as documented in the movie Philomena.
Sadly, Colleen didn’t find a better life in her new home. Her adoptive mother, a niece of Sr Hildegarde, had un-medicated schizophrenia and Colleen suffered an “abusive childhood”.
As an adult, she attempted to trace her birth mother and the pair were reunited with the help of Barnardos in 1999.
Colleen recalled: “My mom was very timid and she was so withdrawn. I also met her husband and my aunt, and I learned I had four half-siblings but they didn’t know about me.
“She had such a sense of shame. She said the worst thing wasn’t the rape, the worst thing was how the nuns had treated her.”
When Colleen’s birth mother died, her husband told his children about their half-sister, and she now has an opportunity to connect with the family she never knew.
She said: “I never really felt like I belonged in the US. It has always been on my mind.
“It’s one thing when someone is an adult and decides to move here, but I was taken, I didn’t have a choice.
“I suffered a lot of abuse. I know my mom was mentally ill and I forgave her.
“My adoptive sister, whom I buried three months ago, was also schizophrenic.
“Since she died I have no family here.”
Colleen’s dream is to move back to Ireland and get to know her family. Having lived in the US on a green card, she has always been an Irish citizen but needs to secure an Irish passport.
She also faces several other expenses in order to relocate so she has launched a crowdfunding drive to help make her dream come true.
She said: “It was always on my bucket list to go home and I want to do it while I’m still young, at 53.
“I also have plans to meet with the Commission of Investigation when I get there and I’m hoping that can provide some assistance to help me get set up.
“I’ve worked all my life and I’ll continue to work.
“I’m not looking for handouts, I just want support and direction to help me to make it happen.”
Despite the grim circumstances of her adoption, Colleen insisted she doesn’t harbour any resentment over her treatment.
She said: “I’m not an angry person by nature. I would say I’m more sad than anything else.
“It’s hard enough for children to grow up in a normal environment so to be taken away is terrible.
“I hope now I’ll get the chance to meet my family and establish a relationship with them.”