A woman spent 51 years of her life loving and cherishing her mother. She never doubted her identity or questioned the connection she shared with her mom. Then, one summer, the pair discovered something that turned their lives topsy-turvy.
Life is full of surprises of all kinds, some of which might be incredibly unpleasant. Sometimes, we might feel better not knowing specific details about our life because some revelations can shake our existence, leaving us shocked and speechless.
A mother and daughter duo experienced similar circumstances when a secret lost to the ages suddenly came to the surface, changing everything they knew about themselves and their unique bond.
Helen Maguire and Christine Skipsey. | Source: youtube.com/Independent.ie
BECOMING PREGNANT AT 18
It was 1966, and an 18-year-old Helen Maguire left her family home in Co Tipperary and moved to work in the Avenue Hotel in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin, Ireland. She grew up in a staunchly Catholic environment and began feeling bouts of loneliness.
Soon afterward, Maguire discovered she was pregnant. She confided in a father who told her to meet a priest and move into a mother and baby home. But she was scared she might be separated from her child.
Maguire also feared that if her family found out about her pregnancy, her father would compel her to place her baby for adoption. She knew that going home wasn't a safe option, so she took a different route.
Helen Maguire. | Source: YouTube.com/Independent.ie
WELCOMING HER DAUGHTER
The young woman went to England and started working at a pub in Kent. There, she met Father Cleary, who was chaplain to the Irish community in Kilburn and Camden. He helped her find work as a telephonist at the President Hotel on Russell Square.
Here's another story where a mother took a DNA test and discovered the daughter she had raised wasn't her own.
Maguire was lonely, scared, and pregnant and gradually started trusting him. On November 25, 1966, she delivered a baby girl at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead and named her 'Christine.'
Helen Maguire and Christine Skipsey. | Source: YouTube.com/Independent.ie
CONFIDING IN FATHER CLEARY
Shortly after giving birth, Maguire wished to visit her family and needed somewhere safe to leave her daughter. She recalled that Father Cleary suggested she leave her girl at St. Patrick's Guild, which the Religious Sisters of Charity operated.
But for the nuns to take care of her baby, Helen initially went along with the idea that her daughter would be given up for adoption. Maguire said she met a woman known to Father Cleary, who took her to St. Patrick's upon her arrival in Ireland.
On December 3, 1966, Maguire's baby girl was placed in the nunnery, and she made an initial deposit of £21 ($27.61). She included a handwritten message that said she intended to keep her child alongside the payment.
Helen Maguire pictured while talking to The Irish Independent correspondent. | Source: YouTube.com/Independent.ie
BRINGING HER BABY HOME
When Maguire returned to her family home, she shared everything with her mother, Joan, and together, the pair visited her daughter in Dublin a week later. Maguire was then given the adoption papers for her girl, which she declined to sign.
The Irish woman claimed that the nuns seemed disagreeable when it became clear that she didn't want her daughter to be placed for adoption. After the visit, Maguire went to London alone to find a suitable place to live with her daughter.
In the meantime, she continued to send money to St. Patrick's for her daughter's care. After six weeks, she went back to get her baby girl. She took the baby and returned to London, where she married a co-worker. The couple had two sons and a daughter.
Helen Maguire and Christine Skipsey. | Source: YouTube.com/Independent.ie
THE SUMMER THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING
After her marriage ended, she remarried and moved back to Ireland with her second husband. Maguire led a happy and fulfilling life with her family until summer 2018 when everything changed for her and her daughter Christine Skipsey.
Skipsey, who was 51 then, was married and a mother of two children and grew up loving her mother, Maguire. She had never questioned her identity until July 2018, when the illegal adoption scandal in Ireland gained publicity.
It was then that Maguire and Skipsey joked about taking a DNA test. But when the results arrived, the pair was left clawing at everything they had known about themselves and their special connection.
THE SHOCKING DNA TEST RESULTS
The results came back with 99 percent certainty that Maguire wasn't Skipsey's biological mother. The shocking results pointed to only one probable explanation — St. Patrick's nuns handed the wrong baby to Maguire 51 years ago.
A heartbroken Maguire was forced to recall her past, and the more she remembered, the more it hurt. She said that when she collected her daughter from the nunnery, she immediately knew something was wrong. She recounted:
"They told me all babies are born with black hair. So like an idiot, I believed them. I never thought about it. Back then you believed what the priests and nuns said to you."
DESPERATE TO FIND MORE DETAILS
Maguire shared that Christine was born with dark, black hair, whereas the baby she was handed had blonde hair. The 71-year-old woman said she insisted the baby she was given wasn't her daughter, but the nuns claimed that she was her child.
Whether the nuns at the infant hospital at Temple Hill intentionally swapped Maguire's baby remained unclear, but the discovery turned around everything for Maguire and Skipsey.
While the pair still loved each other, they felt desperate to find more information. Skipsey wished to find her birth parents, while Maguire wanted to locate her biological daughter. They contacted Tusla, which had St. Patrick's Guild records since 2016.
THE ST. PATRICK'S GUILD SCANDAL
They also sought the help of the Dublin law firm, Coleman Legal Partners, which had many clients impacted by the St. Patrick's Guild scandal.
Skipsey, who lived with her husband in Hertfordshire, north of London, and worked as a secretary in an estate agency, reportedly received information regarding her birthplace and the actual date of birth.
Tulsa also identified a woman they believed to be Maguire's biological daughter. She was admitted to St. Patrick's on the same day as Skipsey and was later adopted by a family in Dublin.
"SHE WILL ALWAYS BE MY BABY"
In May 2018, the Irish Government revealed that 126 people adopted through the former St. Patrick's Guild adoption society between 1946 and 1969 had incorrect details on their birth certificates, leading to illegal adoptions.
But Maguire and Skipsey's unpleasant experience suggested that St. Patrick's was also involved in the swapping of babies. Maguire said it wasn't her fault and that she had apologized to Skipsey and wished to apologize to her birth daughter. She also added:
"She will always be my daughter as far as I'm concerned. I brought her up as my baby, and she will always be my baby."
[Left] Paula Johnson; [Right] Callie as an infant. | Source: YouTube.com/OWN
Indeed, what this mother and daughter pair experienced is genuinely agonizing, but we hope they continue to grow in love regardless.
Here's another story where a mother took a DNA test and discovered the daughter she had raised wasn't her own. Click here to read the whole story.