TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - About one hundred thousand people are adopted in the United States every year. For some, making contact with their birth parents becomes an important search. For one Toledo woman, the search led to a secret more than fifty years in the making.
Martha Ogle spent thirty years searching for her birth mother, starting with only a few documents including her Irish birth certificate. She knew she had been born in Ireland, at a place called St. Patrick's Home from letters given to her adoptive parents.
When Ogle finally found her birth mother, she called her on the phone.
"I called and I said ‘Is this Mary Domegan?' And she said yes. And I said I was born July 10th, 1958 and I think you're my mom," said Ogle. "She went hysterical and I went hysterical."
But Ogle's hysterical joy soon turned to disbelief and anger when she heard details of how she came to be adopted. "Everything about my mom, her family, how I was conceived, my alleged father, it was all a lie. Everything in there was a lie," Ogle said. "I'm a product of a rape."
"It was catastrophic," said Ogle. "I went and saw a counselor for a while because I was just devastated. I thought this would be a great big wonderful thing and I had a wonderful mom that had just gotten pregnant at a young age."
Ogle was one of almost two thousand Irish babies who came to the United States in the late 1950's and 60's in what was a secretive process. Irish investigative reporter Mike Milotte shed light on the situation in the book "Banished Babies." In the '50's and 60's, Ireland was a deeply conservative country aligned closely with the Catholic Church. Single women who got pregnant, regardless of the circumstances of their pregnancies, were often sent to convents to have their babies. The women did not have the option of keeping the babies and often cared for them until a family was found.
Figures taken from government records show Ireland and the church worked out a deal with Catholic Charities here in the America. Almost 2000 babies came to America; 100 to Ohio.
Catholic Charities in Toledo says it does not have any records of any adoptions from that time and has no way of knowing why the St. Patrick's Home lied about Ogle's background.
"It was sad to hear the information that she [Ogle] got," said Joy Shakur, director of adoption services for Catholic Charities in Toledo.
Shakur says what happened to Ogle fifty years ago could never happen today. "Adoptions have evolved in the last 50 years. We have obligations of state laws that we have to get information about the birth parents history," said Shakur.
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