A woman said she was left "heartbroken" after discovering her adoption agency had connected her with the wrong family following a life-long search for her birth mother.
Geraldine McCarthy (59) connected with the immediate family of the woman the Irish adoption agency believed was her natural mother, only for DNA tests to prove they weren't related.
Speaking on TV3's Adoption Stories, Geraldine said it was devastating to discover she wasn't related to the family in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, after forming close bonds with the people she thought were her relations.
"I feel really angry about it because it has caused me so much heartbreak and the other family so much heartbreak that we needn’t have gone through at all. It’s very upsetting and I just wonder what can we do about that really.
"If it’s happened to me, God only knows how many people it’s happened to."
Following the revelation, Geraldine discovered that a nun, acting on behalf of the agency, had followed up on the wrong woman, who shared the same name as Geraldine's mother, Margaret, but was ten years older.
"The nun had physically had gone off in her own transport to locate my mother and this was the family she had found. She first went to the parish priest, who would neither confirm or deny anything. Then she went to the Gardai and according to what she wrote in her letter, the Gardai directed her towards this brother of the lady who might have been my mother. He asked her had he a sister named Margaret and he said he had but that she had died.
"That’s the information that was in my file."
Despite the revelation, the people Geraldine had connected with still wanted to be a part of her life, but she said she felt guilt about entering their lives after their sister had died.
"I was so happy those days, I thought, 'This is so right, this is my family'. It was the most awesome feeling. I thought I would bring it up about a DNA test, because I could be anyone coming in," said Geraldine.
"And they agreed - Margaret’s remaining brother and sister. I employed a doctor known to them and permission was sought to take the DNA and so we did all that. The doctor rang me back one afternoon at around two o’clock. He said, 'The test is back, no match whatsoever'. I said, 'Oh no, I’m imagining that, he couldn’t have said that'.
"They did say we’d keep in touch, but I kind of didn’t because I thought, 'Why am I bothering these people now? I’ve bothered them enough'. I was mortified for having put them through that."
Although Geraldine was heartbroken to discover she wasn't related to the family she had already bonded with, the DNA results allowed her to explore another avenue.
Geraldine placed her DNA results on three international data bases, and was excited to find matches with second cousins. Geraldine connected with a cousin in the US, Joe, who had also been adopted and was searching for his birth family.
Joe had recently discovered the identity of his birth father, which offers hope to Geraldine's search. In her own investigations, Geraldine believes she may have identified her great-great grandfather in Limerick, and has connected with some of his relatives. However, Geraldine said it is astonishing how difficult the Irish system makes it for people trying to find answers.
"It shouldn’t be this hard to find anybody with all the records we have access to now. It’s like they wanted to punish us all for the rest of our lives so we could never find each other again.
"In my wildest dreams I’m always going to hope to find my mother and now my father, too.
"If I don’t, at least I’ve found some second cousins who are going to visit me and I’m going to visit them. That even makes up in a way," she said.
Episode Four of ‘Adoption Stories: What Happened Next’ airs on TV3 on Thursday at 8.30pm