‘Philomena’ inspires McCaskill to press for opening Irish adoption records

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Nancy Cambria nancy.cambria@post-dispatch.com 314-340-82387

The Oscar-nominated movie “Philomena,” which highlights children adopted out of Irish convents against their birth mothers’ wishes, has inspired Sen. Claire McCaskill to press the Irish government to open its adoption records.

In a Washington press conference this morning with the namesake of the movie, Philomena Lee, McCaskill said the Irish government needs to immediately pass legislation to help these children and birth parents reconnect. Many of those records remain closed despite the thousands of adoptions that took place.

Lee spent nearly 10 years trying to find her son who was adopted out of a convent without her consent in the 1950s and given to an American couple from St. Louis. Lee was blocked by nuns at the convent from obtaining vital information to find him. She later learned her son, Michael Hess, had also been trying to find her and had made trips to the convent begging the nuns to give him information to find his birth mother.

Hess, who had risen through the ranks of the Republican party and was a chief legal adviser in the Reagan Administration, died of AIDS without ever finding Lee. His dying wish was to be buried at the convent.

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