How two Irish sisters beat a Kafkaesque system

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When she was 12, Ena Ronayne made a call from a public telephone box to the Cork maternity hospital where she thought she had been born. It was the wrong place.

About an hour's drive away, in the town of Clonmel, her younger sister, Edel, was peppering her adopted mother with questions about her biological family.

Neither knew the other existed. It would be 35 years before they met.

With no legislation to support their right to birth records, adopted people in Ireland who try to find their biological families enter a Kafkaesque tangle of waiting lists that stretch out for years, bureaucratic disarray, and official secrecy.

Ronayne knew her birth mother's name but social workers wasted decades searching for her at an old address. Her younger sister was luckier: She knew roughly where their mother lived. The nuns who had arranged her adoption had told her.

"There are no hard and fast rules in the system and that is the problem. It depends on who you get on the other end of the phone, who you might know," said Edel, now a mother of four.

How two Irish sisters beat a Kafkaesque system

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