Saturday 20th June 2009
Maria Macrae was born in November 1986 in Dublin and shortly afterwards moved with her father to Carlisle in the north of England. Her mother followed them and her sister was born there a year later.
In the summer of 1988 Maria's mother, who suffered from learning difficulties and was pregnant again, left her family and returned to Dublin. Maria never saw her mother again.
Maria's father stuggled to keep his family together. He was worried about the fate of his pregnant wife in Dublin. She was living with a man with whom she had two children. His worries were expressed on an almost weekly basis and were passed on to the Irish Social Services by Social Services from the north of England.
Eventually Maria and her sister became wards of court and Maria went on to spend most of her life in foster care. She never forgot her mother and treasured what pictures she had of her. She retained a strong notion of family and knew she had brothers and sisters somewhere.
A scrapbook she kept contained the one card she received from her mother in 1996 and a letter from the Eastern Health Board (now the HSE) that came with it. When she was 18 she re-read the letter and went in search of her family.
In what has been an incredibly difficult and still unfinished journey Maria has spent most of her life trying to find her brothers and sisters. That search has been frustrated by social services in Ireland and England and raises serious questions about the rights of children who have been placed in foster care.
This is a joint production with the RTE 1 Television programme Primetime. To watch that report, click here
The additional audio offering on this page is a documentary that was made in 2007 on Maria McCrae's mother.
Presented and produced by Peter Woods
An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries