'Priest snatched my baby but I never stopped searching'



A DAUGHTER and her father have been reunited 38 years after she was forcibly removed by the church from his home in Dublin.

Christy Cox and his daughter Wendy (Suzanne) Parle were torn apart from one another when Wendy was just three months old.

The pair spent decades trying to track one another down only to find out that they lived a mere 45-minute drive away from one another across the Wicklow Gap, with Wendy residing in Rathdrum and Christy in Dunlavin.

Wendy was placed up for adoption as a baby, without Christy's permission, after a priest called around to his family home in Crumlin and demanded the child be handed over.

Now the father and daughter have 38 years of catching up to do.

The pair met up for the first time in nearly four decades at Christy's home in Dunlavin.

'It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life but I couldn't ask to find a nicer person. I was nearly squeezed to death when I arrived at the door,' says an emotional Wendy.

'I still have the bruises. She wouldn't let go of me,' adds a beaming Christy.

Now Wendy's biological father will be able to walk her down the aisle when she marries her long-term partner later in the year.

Christy can still recall the day Wendy, who he christened Suzanne, was taken out of his care. Then aged 22, he had separated from the child's mother but was looking after and providing for the baby in his parents' house in Crumlin.

On that fateful day in 1973, he received a call at work telling him to return home as quickly as possible. A priest had called around to the family home with Wendy's mother demanding that the child be handed over.

'He basically snatched the baby right out of my dad's arms. I contacted our local parish priest and he told us if the mother wants to take her then there is nothing we could do.'

Christy attempted to reason with Wendy's mother but the priest she had arrived with prevented her from talking alone to the child's father.

'I think she had a huge amount of pressure placed on her by that priest, and he knew if I talked to her she would have let Suzanne stay. But she was young and in those days what the priest said really stood for something.'

From that day forward Christy did everything in his power to track his daughter down, but to no avail. The incident also had a profound effect on his parents.

'It was devastating for them. Mum had 18 kids so she was a real "Mammy". There was no reason to snatch her like that. I had a job and had family support in raising her from my parents. She would have been reared by me if it wasn't for the church. They obviously weren't thinking about the interests of the child.'

Soon after she was removed from her father's care, Wendy was put up for adoption and was housed with a family in Wicklow town. However, Christy still didn't know of her whereabouts. Each year he made visits to the Adoption Board to try and trace her but found little help being offered. Never-the-less he continued with his quest.

'I just kept coming up against brick wall after brick wall. No one would help me. I wasn't even allowed her baptism cert. I was told absolutely nothing. My child was basically grabbed off me and no one would provide any answers. Her birth cert appeared to have been tampered with. I had been searching high and low for over 30 years but there was no way I was going to give up.'

Wendy also wanted to meet her biological father but had concerns about possible rejection.

'I wanted to find my daddy but I was afraid he might have emigrated. Also I didn't want to disturb any family he might have started. But I always had this sense that he was trying to locate me and still loved me.'

Wendy's partner, Ray Nolan, stumbled across a website named iwasadopted.com. Little did they know that Christy, with the help of his sister-in-law Anne Marie, had also signed up to the site. When initial contact was made between both parties, tentative replies flew back and forth, as neither Wendy nor Christy wanted to get another person's hopes up just in case it turned out they weren't a match.

However, bit by bit it soon became apparent that Christy and Wendy were indeed father and daughter. Now it has been confirmed, the pair pray that their experience will give hope to others who find themselves in a similar situation.

'For me it's closure. It's a weight of my shoulders and I can now carry on with the rest of my life,' adds Wendy. For Christy the reunion means, 'I don't have to worry about her anymore. I know she is being treated well and isn't on her own with no one to turn to,'


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