Adopted children fight Irish state secrecy to find parents

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Catherine Droogan turns 40 this year. That's one of the few personal details she can be sure of.

Adopted at four weeks from a convent in eastern Ireland, Droogan doesn't know who her parents were or where she was born. She is not even certain who actually named her Catherine.

Lying on her kitchen table in the Northern Ireland town of Omagh is a one-page document that the state has given her about her parents, containing what's known as "non-identifying information". It took her a year to get from Ireland's health service and tells her that her father was a blue-eyed factory worker in his early 20s, and her mother was a catering assistant who liked to read and dance. There are no names or addresses.

International laws say all children should know their parents and be able to establish their identity. But adopted people in Ireland have no automatic right to their birth records, and no legal right to tracing services. Pressure to change this has risen since "Philomena", an Oscar-nominated movie, was released last year. It tells the true story of Philomena Lee, an Irish woman whose son was sold as a toddler by nuns to a U.S. couple.

"When I was younger I thought someday there will be this big reunion. As I got older, I got a bit of sense. But just to know who I am is my biggest want. That's what really bugs me, that I can't know the simple things," said Droogan, who has two children of her own. "My eldest son wants to know who he looks like. He is the double of me."

Adopted children fight Irish state secrecy to find parents

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