Limerick’s Philomena to help adopted children find their parents

Philomena Lee (left) with Dame Judy Dench at the London premiere of
Philomena Lee (left) with Dame Judy Dench at the London premiere of
Philomena Lee (left) with Dame Judy Dench at the London premiere of Philomena

Newcastlewest woman Philomena Lee, whose fifty year search for the son she gave up for adoption inspired the Oscar-nominated film ‘Philomena’, is about to launch an organization to help adopted people and their natural parents contact each other.

The Philomena Project, which will be established in association with the Adoption Rights Alliance in Dublin tomorrow, will lobby the Irish State to grant access to adoption records for both in-country and Irish-US adopted people and their families.

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The project aims to provide finance, campaigning mechanisms, supports, and services to natural mothers who have been unable to or prevented from tracing children taken from them by adoption, particularly forced and illegal adoptions. It will also assist children, particularly those taken to the US, trace their natural mothers, fathers, and extended families, and to obtain their birth certificates and other relevant records.

The project came about as a result of Ms Lee’s efforts to find the son she was forced to give up for adoption in 1952 when she was just 19. Her son Anthony, who was renamed Michael Hess went on to become a successful lawyer, serving as White House chief legal counsel under Ronald Regan and Geroge Bush Snr. After contracting HIV, he died in 1995 and is buried in Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea.

The movie’Philomena’ is based on the book ‘The Lost Child of Philomena Lee’ by former BBC journalist Martin Sixsmith and stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.

Mr Lee said she established the Philomena Project with her daughter Jane because they had heard from many people who saw her story and wanted to help.

“I hope it will help find solutions that ensure every mother and child who want to be reunited are able to come together once again”, she said.