By Patricia Devlin
This month I spoke to a number of survivors of Ireland’s horrific mother and baby institutions.
One of those was David Kinsella, a Dublin man who was born in the notorious St Patrick’s facility on the Navan Road.
The 58 year-old’s story is incredibly heartbreaking. Set aside the abuse he suffered from the very day he was born, he never got the chance to meet his mum as she passed away before he was given her details. On the same day he found out that his mother had died, he discovered he had siblings, including a sister called Emma, in the UK.
After speaking together on the phone Emma jetted in to Dublin to meet her brother. She told him that their mum Elizabeth had taken David’s existence to the grave. They laughed and cried together before parting ways.
A few months later David received an email from Emma saying she’d spoken to his other siblings and because their lives had ‘evolved’ without him, they wished to continue that way.
Another heartbreaking rejection that this incredible man didn’t deserve.
That was 11 years ago and David still holds on to hope that he will build a relationship with his siblings. Just last month the father-of-six sent Emma one last email in a bid to build bridges.
Said David: “I said to her that I will always be grateful for her coming to meet me and telling me a little about our mum. If she does wish to contact me, she can. My door is always open. At the end of the day life is short, we all age and we all die.”
Here is David’s full interview published in the Irish Daily Star earlier this week.
A Dublin man who was born into a notorious mother and baby institution in the 50s says he believes the State used him as a medical trial subject.
David Kinsella, 58, a trained trauma and addiction therapist, was given countless vaccinations from the day he was born until the age of four at the now defunct St Patrick’s ‘home’, Dublin.
The father-of-six has made the claims after scouring his medical records from his time at the Catholic church-run facility.
They were obtained after a 40 year search for his biological mother, who sadly passed away before David had a chance to meet her.
Speaking to The Star yesterday Mr Kinsella said: “I believe I was a medical trial subject for them where I was getting additional injections, vaccines, that I should not have been getting. And that’s evident in my medical records.
“The amount of vaccine notes in my records is substantial. There was one year I got the same vaccine twice.
“I was given the BCG vaccine on the 12th of December 1958, when I was 4 months old. And on the 18th of December, four days later, I’m anointed and confirmed. In grave danger of death, my records say.
“My adoption was delayed three or four times because I was hospitalised six times according to records.
“On one of the occasions I ended up in St Kevin’s Hospital, St James’ now, for seven months.
“According to the records I had to get a full blood transfusion and I also had deteriorated iron malabsorption, which can come from malnutrition.
“And I do believe that unknown to my adoptive parents, it (vaccine trials) continued on until I was in primary school.
“I recall a doctor regularly calling to my adoptive parents house, where I was held down and forced to get big drops into my eye and more injections.”
David was born into the notorious Catholic church run institution in 1958.
His mother Elizabeth, an unmarried 31 year-old woman at the time, left St Patrick’s for England around 18 months after he was born.
She went on to marry and have four more children but never told them of David’s existence.
She sadly passed away at the age of 61 after a battle with bowel cancer and was buried in Basingstoke, England.
David joined his new family in Clondalkin at the age of four, but did not discover he was adopted until the age of 11.
When he turned 18 he sought to find his birth mother but was told by the then Eastern Health Board there were no records.
Overcome with feelings of emptiness and what he calls genetic bewilderment, David spiralled into alcoholism and prescription drug abuse from his late teens to mid-20s.
He bravely underwent rehabilitative therapy at the age of 25, before setting out again to find his biological mother, this time through St Louise’s adoption authority. Again he was told no records existed.
“It was only when I tried for a third time under the HSE in 2003 that a social worker, a lovely lady who was dedicated to my case, helped me,” said David.
“I’ll never forget the day that she rang me in my office on November 7, 2005. She said, ‘David I have good news and bad news for you.
“Ethically I’d rather meet you in person but in this instance I have to talk to you on the phone because I have someone else on the other line from England. She’s a sibling of yours and she wants to fly in next Friday and meet you.
“The bad news is your mum died at the age of 61 from bowel cancer in Basingstoke in London.”
After coming to terms with the bitter-sweet revelation David met his younger sister Emma the following week.
“We spoke for hours and we cried,” he said.
“She said to me, ‘sadly David your existence was taken to the grave’.
“She knew nothing about me nor did any of my other siblings.
“Emma said she can’t fathom how mum could leave a child. My reply to her was that the fear inside St Patrick’s was greater than her maturity.
“I also have a very strong belief that the nuns there, as they did with many other mums, told my mother that I had passed away after I was anointed and confirmed. In fact, I am 99.9 per cent sure they did. Sadly I’ll never know for sure.”
The joy of meeting his half-sibling helped David overcome his grief from losing the mum he never met.
Unfortunately a few months later Emma dealt him another heart-rending blow.
“I received an email from Emma saying that she’d spoken to my other siblings and because their lives have evolved without me for the last 40 years, they wished to continue that way,” explained David.
“She said she didn’t know if we would get in touch again and wished me well.”
Today David refuses to let the rejection he has suffered in the past from helping other victims like himself.
As one of the founding members of the newly formed United Survivors group, the 58 year-old is spearheading a campaign for an official government apology to the victims of mother and baby facilities here.
“We also want to give victims the strength to fight for justice and speak out,” he said.
He also revealed that after 11 years of no contact, he has sent his sister one last email in the hope of building a relationship with her.
Said David: “I said to her that I will always be grateful for her coming to meet me and telling me a little about our mum.
“If she does wish to contact me, she can. My door is always open. At the end of the day life is short, we all age and we all die.”
4 thoughts on “Child number 1629 – David’s story”
Reblogged this on Social Action 2014.
Thank you David, for turning your pain around into helping others.
I’m sorry for what you went through & hope your sister & other siblings are able to show some compassion. I’m sure much of it is their intention to keep their mothers secret, but it’s time the world wakes up & understands the shame society inflicted upon women who became pregnant without the benefit of marriage, while the men walked away unblemished. I also run a group in the U.S. For Birthmothers & adoptees, Concerned United Birthparents
www,cubirthparents.org. I’m originally from England but my dad was
born in Kilkenny & mum raised in Sligo. I’m a birthmother also.
Hello David, I read your story and I am so saddened by it. On the other side of the coin I’m glad you have turned your pain into helping others. I have met you twice as I’m also a victim of abuse and along with SAVIA I was put into Nazareth Lodge along with my siblings. I count myself lucky for that but I was also abused in the care of the Nazareth sisters which stays with me to this day.
I also still have living biological parents whom I lost touch with for over 30years+ but I reunited with my mother for the second time on two separate occasions late 1980s and around 2005 but it didn’t work out as she couldn’t connect a loving mother/daughter relationship with me. That hurt me so much so I do feel your pain and understand what you went through not knowing your parents and the trauma and pain you where subjected to as a baby and growing up.
I want to forgive both my parents and Sisters of Nazareth for giving me the life they did. It has defined me as the person I am today. I really hope you get resolution to your enquiry you have set up for United Survivors Group.
If by any chance, Davids siblings read this…. then I urge them… please show this man compassion and embrace him as your brother. He deserves it. I was an unmarried mother who gave up her son for adoption in 1960. I found him in 1987 and am presently on holiday with him at his home in America, along with my daughter( his sister). All my family have embraced him and are all the better for it. I told my mother about him when she was 82 years old. David, I do hope they read this.