by Kierston Drier
My Name is Joan, packs an exceptional emotional punch. Poignant, compassionate and full of intrigue, it follows a story that is nothing short of scandalous, involving the mother-and-baby homes of the 1920-1980’s in Ireland. We follow Susan Drew, born Joan Fagan to an unwed mother in Dublin and adopted under mysterious circumstance, as she recounts her story of discovering her past. As Susan revels her own history- and that of her mother who lost her daughter in a mother-and-baby home to an overseas adoption, we also uncover the history of illicit adoptions performed through the Catholic church in a time when unwed mothers faced extreme persecution.
Untold numbers of women gave birth out of wedlock after the second world war. While the Irish government looked away, those women were sent to Church-run mother-and-baby homes, where they were promised totally anonymity and safety to deliver their babies. What they were not told was that they would be subjected to difficult conditions, poor treatment, neglect and that their children could be taken from them and adopted out- with very little they could do about it.
Susan would have been one more unnamed child lost in a sea of murky documentation. That is, if it hadn’t been for one nun who saved and scanned the paperwork of every child she saw under her care- Susan being one of them.
My Name Is Joan is an incredible documentary. Susan’s journey being the primary tale, the story still branches out, spider-web like, into the larger scandal. With jaw-dropping statistics and frightening conclusions to be drawn from them, it is incredible that such an event can take place, seemingly under the nose of a country. My Name Is Joan is one woman’s story of finding her past, and changing her future. It is also a story of a nation whose women and children were under siege. A gripping, emotionally ambitious and incredibly moving film.
MY NAME IS JOAN, 30min, USA, Documentary
Directed by Margaret Costa
Tells the story of Susan Drew, a woman who was born Joan Fagan to an unwed mother in the St. Patrick Mother and Baby Home in Dublin, Ireland in 1949. While the documentary chronicles Susan’s journey to find her true identity, it also highlights the illegal exporting of children by the Catholic Church to families in other countries for profit while the Irish Government looked the other way.
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