One woman's experience of being a pregnant teenager in Ireland.
At the age of seventeen Brenda’s mother discovered she was pregnant. Initially her boyfriend was looking forward to being a father. However before Brenda’s birth he accepted an offer of a job abroad and then lost interest in his parental duties.
Initially the plan was to have Brenda adopted so her mother did not tell her own parents she was pregnant. To help conceal the pregnancy she went to mother and baby home in Cork until the baby was born.
It was an awful place, it was a dump.
The mother and baby home was run by nuns, so Brenda’s mother had to go to mass every day and was expected to work in the nursery looking after five babies. This was extremely difficult work for women who were thinking of giving up their babies for adoption.
Brenda’s mother only returned home for her sister’s birthday party and disguised her pregnancy. She regrets she could not be outwardly proud of her pregnancy.
I thought I should have enjoyed it more, instead it was made out to be the worst time of my life.
The mother and baby home was an adoption agency, so there was an expectation that she would give up her baby. After the birth, Brenda’s mother went home for two weeks to find a solicitor to apply for maintenance.
She then encountered problems with adoption board as she had signed paperwork to have Brenda adopted. They had found adoptive parents for Brenda and there were difficulties getting her baby back.
Brenda’s mother now has support from her mother and sisters. However her father is worried about what the neighbours will think and he will not allow her to come home.
Referring to the 1983 referendum on abortion she believes Irish people are hypocrites.
Everybody is going on about the rights of the unborn child but what about the rights of the child when it’s born.
Brenda's mother would like to go back to do her leaving certificate, go to college and have a career but she knows this is not an option financially.
This episode of ‘Women's Programme’ was broadcast on 16 January 1984. The presenter is Marian Finucane.