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Flesh & Blood
Flesh & Blood RTÉ One, Tuesday 9.30pm

Joy Burniston

Joy Burniston confronts the legacy of her childhood adoption in the fifth programme in the documentary series Flesh & Blood.

"It's all very strange," says Joy Burniston. "There's so much I haven't got straight yet." As a baby Joy Burniston was adopted by an Irish man and his English wife. A private adoption, Joy was just a few weeks old when she was brought by her adoptive parents first to Zambia, then to South Africa. But what should have been a new life for Joy turned instead into a childhood of confusion, isolation and unanswered questions.

Joy and her adoptive father were always close. But Joy's relationship with her adoptive mother was not a warm one, and when her adoptive parents moved back to England the gulf between mother and daughter widened. Meanwhile, Joy and her father would frequently escape to his native Kerry, on their own, and Joy's deepening bond with her father seemingly belied the fact that he wasn't her 'real' Dad.

When Joy married, the relationship with her mother faltered one final time, and with the death of her father a few years later, Joy decided that she needed to know the truth about her life once and for all.

Joy was eventually, and joyously, re-united with her birth mother. But that re-union was to bring with it the answer to a question that she had never dared ask, and a revelation that shed new light on the difficulties of Joy's childhood.

Joy as a young lady
Joy Burniston