The This World documentary Ireland’s Lost Babies aired on BBC2 on 17 September. Martin Sixsmith explores the stories of those involved in the transatlantic adoption trade between Ireland and America in the 1950s and ’60s. Ireland’s Lost Babies will be shown on RTÉ 1 at 10.15pm on 18 September. The documentary can be watched on the BBC player here, while details about the making of the programme can be also found on the BBC website.
Review by Dr Niamh Cullen.
The BBC documentary Ireland’s Lost Babies followed Martin Sixsmith as he explored the forced adoption of so-called illegitimate Irish children to the US. It casts yet more light on the question of how independent Ireland treated some of its most vulnerable members: single women and their children. The documentary was structured around a series of interviews with Lily Boyce, whose son had been forcibly adopted, and with adopted children in the US who were now trying to trace their birth families in Ireland. The personal stories were weaved in well with the broader narrative of how these adoptions were carried out, and of the society that enabled the system to continue. The 2013 film Philomena dramatized the work that Sixsmith has already done in helping Philomena Lee — who recently spoke about her experience of forced adoption — trace her son; here he uncovers the roots of the system in Irish society and Irish institutions, both religious and political.