Phyllis Whitsell was adopted as a baby and encouraged to keep that fact a secret. Although she was told both of her parents had died from tuberculosis, she never quite believed it and always felt deep down that her real mother was somehow still alive.
After Phyllis had grown up, married and had children of her own, she was even more compelled to find her birth mother and began investigating. After consulting a counselor and locating her original birth certificate, she contacted the orphanage where she was given to as a baby. More clues began to surface. A member of the staff who had been present when Phyllis was surrendered revealed that her mother, Mary, was an alcoholic with severe mental problems.
Although this was a big blow, after so many years of yearning to meet her mother, Phyllis decided to use her nursing skills to care for the woman. For nine years, Phyllis bathed, dressed and fed her mother all-the-while keeping her identity a secret.
In time, Mary began to talk about the children she had given up for adoption, including Phyllis, whom she spoke of affectionately. The conversations caused mixed feelings, but Phyllis resolved to never turn her back on her birth mother.
After her mother died, Phyllis said she felt grateful for having the opportunity to care for her and is writing a book about the experience titled “Finding Tipperary Mary.”