He described his need to form attachments, and he expressed this in a letter he wrote in 1986 to the Resident Manager: I was just thinking to myself, as I have always thought, of that I can never say that I never had a mother and father because I have had that, and that’s you and Fr Burke.8 Just like all mums and dads, you fed me, clothed me, taught me to read and write, brought me on holidays. I will never forget and loads more and I love you both and always will.
He was asked if he stood by those sentiments today and he replied: Yes, I would ... Fr Burke ... I wish he was my dad, because I loved him so much. He’s one in a million ... Sr Sienna as much as there is a lot of good fond memories, and I stand over the letter and those words I have said in it ... there is a lot of good but yet there is bad ... I thought she was so good and the next minute she turned bad, by locking me in the black hole and humiliating me and embarrassing me and hitting me in her office.
He was eloquent in describing his yearning for a family life he never had. He said: Father Burke was very affectionate and you would get a hug from him and so forth, but naturally children need ... more than that, more loving and to be wanted. As all children would, as anybody in general does. I felt I wasn’t getting that ... I felt that it was an uphill battle on my own against all the other environments ... just doing what father tells you to go to school at this time and you come back at this time, go to bed at this time. That’s fine, because one is institutionalised ... I find it easy to work in these environs, because I have been brought up in them. If I had joined the army I would have had no problems. But moving into ... the normal world, it is totally different. Naturally I would see the bond of family that [the family that befriended me] have with their daughter ... it is so beautiful that it is something that I wanted to express but I didn’t know where to express it. I just found that very, very difficult.