The Adoption Machine: The Dark History of Ireland’s Mother and Baby Homes and the Inside Story of How Tuam 800 Became a Global Scandal


Paul Jude Redmond

March 2018

The Adoption Machine exposes the dark history of Ireland’s Mother and Baby Homes, and the extraordinary campaign by survivor groups to bring its secret and shameful past into the light. It is a history from which there is no turning away.


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MAY 2014. The Irish public woke to the horrific discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of most 800 babies in the ‘Angels’ Plot’ of Tuam’s Mother and Baby Home. What followed would rock the last vestiges of Catholic Ireland, enrage an increasingly secularised nation, and lead to a Commission of Inquiry.

In The Adoption Machine, Paul Jude Redmond, Chairperson of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Homes Survivors, who himself was born in the Castlepollard Home, candidly reveals the shocking history of one of the worst abuses of Church power since the foundation of the Irish State. From Bessboro, Castlepollard, and Sean Ross Abbey to St Patrick’s and Tuam, a dark shadow was cast by the collusion between Church and State in the systematic repression of women and the willful neglect of illegitimate babies, resulting in the deaths of thousands.

It was Paul’s exhaustive research that widened the global media’s attention to all the homes and revealed Tuam as just the tip of the iceberg of the horrors that lay beneath. He further reveals the vast profits generated by selling babies to wealthy adoptive parents, and details how infants were volunteered to a pharmaceutical company for drug trials without the consent of their natural mothers. Interwoven throughout is Paul’s poignant and deeply personal journey of discovery as he attempts to find his own natural mother.

The Adoption Machine exposes this dark history of Ireland’s shameful and secret past, and the efforts to bring it into the light. It is a history from which there is no turning away.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Background and Foundations, 1739–1944

  1. The Age of the Institutions
  2. Building High Walls: The First Mother and Baby Home and Other Institutions
  3. Going Our Own Way: The Mother and Baby Homes Expansion
  4. Holy Catholic Ireland: A New Model
  5. Behind the High Walls: Daily Life in the Homes

Part 2: In Living Memory, 1944–1990

  1. Changing Times: Disappearing at the Crossroads
  2. Welcome to the Machine
  3. The Beginning of the End

Part 3: Campaigning, 1990–2013

  1. The Adoption Community
  2. Running to Stand Still
  3. Facebook and the Young Guns
  4. Campaigning: New Tactics, New Strategies, New Ideas

Part 4: Breakthrough, 2014–2017

  1. From Tuam to Castlepollard via the Rest of the World
  2. The Inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes, July 2014–June 2015
  3. Opening the Adoption Records
  4. Fighting for Full Inclusion
  5. Reflections
  6. Talking to Shadows

Appendix ~ A Guide to Tracing Natural Mothers and Adoptees

About the Author

Paul Jude Redmond was born in Castlepollard Mother and Baby Home in December 1964. Chairperson of the survivor umbrella group, the Coalition of Mother and Baby home Survivors (CMABS), Paul also produced the very first report highlighting the mortality rates and general cruelty in the Homes and calling for a public inquiry. After the Tuam 800 story broke, he was instrumental in working with the media to increase the public and political attention on the other Mother and Baby Homes and their mortality rates. He continues to advocate tirelessly on behalf of all survivors of Ireland’s wider, forced adoption network.

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