My Name is Joan

Feile, Inc. Invites you to a screening of the Award-winning documentary
“My Name is Joan”
Produced and Directed byMargaret Stapor CostaAries Productions LLC

“My Name is Joan” tells the story of Susan Drew, a woman who was born Joan Fagan to an unwed mother in the St. Patrick Mother and Baby Home in Dublin, Ireland on May 16, 1949. While the documentary chronicles Susan’s journey to find her true identity, it also highlights the illegal exporting of children for profit by the Catholic Church to families in other countries while the Irish Government turned a blind eye.

Mother and Baby homes were the norm in Irish society for unwed mothers since the nation became a state in 1922. An unmarried woman who became pregnant was viewed as a criminal. In most cases, their so-called “crime” of having sex outside of wedlock and becoming pregnant was a worse crime than murder. Therefore, in the wisdom of the Church, the women needed to be imprisoned and punished.

Unwed mothers were shunned by society and their families. The state-owned mother and baby homes, which were run by the Catholic Church, were oftentimes the only option for an unwed mother. But by entering them, the women unknowingly gave up all of their rights and dignity. Daily verbal and physical abuse by the nuns was common. Women worked heavy, manual labor into their 3rd trimesters. Women were denied drugs and proper medical care during labor. Once their babies were born, they had limited time to be with them as they had to return to hard labor to “pay for their sins.” They were called “fallen women.” They were told that while men had urges, the women should have been strong enough to withstand a male’s advances. In an overwhelming number of instances, these unwed mothers were raped. These rapes were committed by strangers, males in a position of power in a work situation and also by members of the clergy.

While Sue was taken from her mother when she was over two, she is considered lucky by many in Irish society. The majority of children who were not adopted were sent to institutions or bachelor farmers to work at hard labor with no chance for advancement because no education was provided. Oftentimes, these children were abused and no record of their whereabouts was ever kept once they left the home.

In 2015, a inquiry was launched by the Irish government to investigate what went on in mother and baby homes between 1922 and 1998. This Commission of Investigation is due out with their findings in 2018. The Commission has still not released their findings and 2018 is nearing an end. Many believe the inquiry will not shed light on what really happened to mothers and their children in these homes, and believe the Government is dragging its feet and hoping the issue will die as the people who were directly affected or those who engineered the illegal adoptions die.

The Irish Government still denies adopted children access to their information even though forced adoption affects at least a quarter of the Irish population. Children and mothers who go searching for each other are denied information that could reunite them. It is also believed that the Catholic Church and the Irish Government have destroyed all records pertaining to a mother and child’s time in the home in an effort to keep the “sins” of the nation buried. To this day, there are still many children and mothers who continue to search for each other.

The screening will be held on October 28th and will be followed by a Question and Answer forum and reception.  The event will run from 2:30-4:30 and is open to all Free of charge.