Some immigrants came to the US planning to stay. Others were seeking a temporary safe haven.
My birth mother left Ireland in 1955 and came to New York City. She was 3 months pregnant and single. At that time, Ireland was a conservative country dominated by the Catholic Church’s moral code. It would have been difficult for her to stay and raise me alone.
For more than two centuries, unwed mothers were often sent to institutions, forced into labor and their babies were taken from them. These unwed mothers were considered “fallen women,” a term also used for prostitutes and others deemed unfit for society.
My birth mother came to New York seeking refuge from a Catholic organization for unwed mothers run by nuns. They found her a place to stay. They explained the harsh realities of single motherhood, and the benefits of adoption. After giving birth, my mother agreed to adoption.
16 months later I was adopted by a married couple, almost in their forties and unable to have children. They were of Irish decent which made my birth mother very happy.
My adoptive parents were loving and provided all I needed. They instilled a love of family, a strong work ethic, and an appreciation for my Irish heritage. My paternal grandmother, who emigrated from Ireland in her teens and never returned, kept her Irish citizenship. I learned about my birth mother in my early-twenties. She did return to live in Ireland. When I was born, she gave me a pair of blue boxing gloves that I treasure.
– David P Connerty