Philomena Lee Project
"Through her heroic efforts to unite mothers and children separated by cruel practices and archaic laws, Philomena is helping make gentle the life of the world"Ethel Kennedy


Copyright The Philomena Project
Philomena Lee meets Pope Francis
On February 19, 2013, An Taoiseach (Prime Minister of Ireland), Enda Kenny, issued an official state apology to survivors of the Magdalene Laundries. The apology came after a decade-long campaign by advocacy organisations such as Justice for Magdalenes (now JFM Research), which took a case to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT). Declaring the laundries ‘the nation’s shame,’ Kenny outlined a plan to compensate those who had been wronged by the institutions and begin a restorative justice process.

But those women and girls who had suffered in the equally harsh Mother and Baby Homes, and who lost their children to forced and often illegal adoptions, have yet to receive that same justice. The records pertaining to those adoptions remain sealed and adopted people have no automatic right to their birth certificates.

Philomena Lee and her daughter Jane Libberton
Because of this closed, secret adoption system, Philomena Lee and her son were unable to find each other before he passed. The Philomena Project and Adoption Rights Alliance call on the Irish government to implement adoption information and tracing legislation. Rights and services and similar to those in Northern Ireland and the UK should be enacted without delay, ensuring that the legislation covers ALL historic cases of adoption.

We ask you to support this petition by adding your name and sharing this with your family, friends and colleagues.  Any donations to support The Philomena Project are greatly appreciated. Donate to our campaign here.



From the 18th century up until the late 1990s, Catholic, Protestant and non-denominational lay committees in Ireland operated Magdalene Laundries, industrial schools, convent homes and orphanages (previously known as workhouses), all of which were harsh, punitive institutions and part of an over-arching ‘architecture of containment.’ In the 1920’s, religious orders such as the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary, the Daughters of Charity and others established what were called Mother and Baby Homes on the premises of lands and buildings donated to the Church. These facilities housed girls and women who had become pregnant out of wedlock and their children. During this time, countless women were separated from their sons and daughters, who were often given up for adoption against their will.


Magdalene Laundries were for-profit institutions run by religious orders where women and girls worked doing laundry, needlework and lacework. The laundries were originally philanthropic institutions but they became increasingly punitive, particularly after the foundation of the Irish State. For further information on the Magdalene Laundries, please see the JFM Research website and Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries and the Nation’s Architecture of Containment by Professor James Smith (Boston College/JFM Research).


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