Sr Klara15 wrote to a senior official of the Department of Education on 25th November 1960, telling him of the request from the Laceys. She explained that Annette could not be adopted legally, as her mother was alive but untraced. She suggested that perhaps the Laceys could be her Godparents, and sought his opinion on this matter. She hoped he could help find the mother so that her consent for adoption or the Godparenting arrangement could be sought.
Sr Klara wrote again on 3rd December 1960, advising the official of the Department that the Gardaí had had no success in tracing Annette’s mother and wondering whether she should go ahead with allowing the child go to the Laceys. She suggested getting a reference from the parish priest before making a final decision. At this stage, the Laceys had brought the child out for outings and were keen to take her. The official advised her to get the reference from the parish priest before allowing it to go ahead.
On 10th December 1960, Sr Klara wrote to Mr Wade of the Department of Education as follows: Since our conversation (phone) I have received a letter from my friend to whom I wrote for information re. couple who wish to adopt Annette. It seems this “party” is only here for the past few months from England. The husband is a lapsed Catholic, and the wife a Protestant. As we have been warned that “couples” are going through Dublin trying to adopt children, and from the information just received, I don’t think it wise to go any further unless we get a very definite proof of the suitability of the Adopting Parents.
Sr Klara wrote again to Mr Wade on 12th December 1960, expressing her continuing uneasy mind regarding the couple who wished to adopt Annette, and seeking his advice as to whether she should pursue the matter with the parish priest in the UK, as the couple had only resided four months in Ireland. The parish priest in Terenure had vouched that they were attentive to their Church duties in the four months that he knew them and were worthy and reliable people.
Sr Klara came under increasing pressure from the Laceys, who were indignant that Mr Wade, when he interviewed them, had information to suggest that they were not Catholics. Mrs Lacey denied this and said they attended Mass every Sunday. Sr Klara remained very doubtful about them.
A note on the letter said: ‘Phoned Sr Klara and informed her of our inquiries. She is now satisfied to release child for Xmas holidays and we are to [make] ... inquiries regarding Lacey couple with a view to advising mgr on question of release on supervision certificate TOR 16/12/60’.
In a letter to Mrs Lacey dated 8th January 1961, Sr Klara informed her that Annette was safely back in Kilkenny and had been telling the Sisters about the wonderful time she had with ‘my Mammy and my Daddy’ and thanking her for giving her such a good time.
The child obviously had an accident whilst with the couple, because Sr Klara also noted that ‘on the following day she would take Annette to the Dr. to have the stitches removed D.V’.
In a detailed report in April 1961, concerning the Laceys’ application, Mr Wade wrote to Mr McDevitt, Inspector. He set out the circumstances of how the couple came to Ireland in 1960 and immediately contacted the Adoption Board with regard to taking a child into their household. They had been referred by the Adoption Board to St Joseph’s, Kilkenny as an institution that might be able to ‘supply their want’. Sr Klara understood from this referral that they had been vouched for by the official in the Adoption Board, and she introduced the couple to Annette. Mr Wade had met the couple on several occasions as they had called into the Department. On the surface, they appeared pleasant but he had a number of concerns. First, Mr Lacey admitted to being lax about his religious duties; secondly, Mrs Lacey protested that she was a convert to Catholicism but was hazy as to the date of her conversion from the Protestant religion; and, finally, although she could give the location, she was not sure of the exact date of her marriage to Mr Lacey. Added to this, Sr Klara had her own doubts about the couple’s religious persuasion and had been warned that couples were going about the country seeking to adopt infants – therefore, she was not prepared to make the decision on her own authority. Mr Wade concluded that the application should be refused on the grounds that the whereabouts of the child’s mother were unknown and her consent would be needed for final discharge, coupled with the vague replies by the Laceys about their marriage.
The following additional particulars were recorded: Annette was discharged on May 5th 1961 by Order of the Minister of Education to Mr and Mrs Lacey, [address redacted]. Mr McDevitt and the Resident Manager (Sr Klara) were not in favour of this adoption.
Sr Hanna,16 who had taken over from Sr Klara, informed Mr McDevitt about the letter and advised him that she had written immediately to Mrs Lacey to tell her the child would be welcome back in St Joseph’s and was expecting her back any day.