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Webchat with Philomena Lee, inspiration behind the Oscar-nominated film, Philomena, Thursday 27 March, 12-1pm

(67 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 17-Mar-14 15:21:46

We are delighted to announce that the real Philomena Lee, who inspired the Oscar-nominated and award-winning film Philomena, will be joining us for a webchat on Thursday 27 March from 12-1pm.

Falling pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena Lee was sent to the convent of Roscrea to be looked after as a 'fallen woman'. When her baby was only a toddler, he was adopted and taken to America without warning. Philomena spent the next fifty years searching for her lost son in vain.

Then she met Martin Sixsmith, a world-weary journalist as cynical as Philomena was trusting. Together they set off for America on a journey that would not only reveal the extraordinary story of Philomena's son, but also the powerful bond that developed between Philomena and Martin – a surprising relationship that was both profoundly moving and very funny.

Based on the best-selling book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith, this incredible true story was adapted for the screen by star Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope. Loved by audiences and critics alike, Pathé Productions invite you to experience Philomena this Mother's Day, released on Blu-ray and DVD on 24 March 2014. We have 30 copies up for grabs. If you'd like to watch the film and join the webchat, apply for a free copy here.

Join Philomena Lee on Thursday 27 March at midday or post a question to her in advance on this thread.

kpdchudleigh Mon 17-Mar-14 18:18:18

I too am living life separated from a child I love against my will. Please tell me, Philomena, how did you manage the pain of separation? Laughter or smiles break my heart with guilt that my life goes on.

Willemdefoeismine Mon 17-Mar-14 19:08:21

Hi Philomena

How did you cope with being regarded as 'a fallen woman' when you were so young and how did you overcome such a cruel label?


Ruby6918 Wed 19-Mar-14 18:28:55

what a story and life and journey, i really wish you every best thought and peace that i can forever, id just like to ask where have you gained your inner strength from, you are very inspirational and seem to have had an awful lot to deal with and what do you enjoy now to relax, thank u cathy

Bogeyface Fri 21-Mar-14 11:43:35

I was so moved when I saw the film, I think you were very brave to allow your story to be told.

Do you think that the film was an accurate portrayal of what happened? And how did it feel to be played by Dame Judi Dench?

BallyGoBackwards Fri 21-Mar-14 15:49:26

Philomena is in Dublin today and I would have loved to meet her this afternoon at a signing but cant make it. I have read the book and would like to know if "mary", who also left Ireland with martin to live with the same family, was ever reunited with her mother? Or has Philomena met with her?

storynanny Fri 21-Mar-14 20:10:03

Hi Philomena, I really hope that you found some kind of peace in your life with your daughter. How did having to give upvyour son affect your future relationships with loved ones such as your daughter?

BallyGoBackwards Mon 24-Mar-14 15:28:47

Sorry I should of said Philomena's son Anthony not Martin.......

Coppernob Mon 24-Mar-14 17:26:53

12 years ago I discovered that my mother had had a baby adopted at birth. My half sister found me and we are now really close. How can a person keep such a secret hidden for 53 years without ever giving anything away? My heart goes out to people who were forced onto such a situation because of the conventions of the time.

OwlMammy Mon 24-Mar-14 18:07:51

Hi Philomena,

I too was an unmarried teenage mother in Ireland- only I had my baby in the 2000s, not the 1950s. During my pregnancy and after the birth, I had a few older relatives/family friends confide in me about their own babies that they had been forced to give up for adoption. They told me how lucky I was that I had the choice, which they had been denied. What really struck me was how they had kept such a massive secret for so long, with only a handful of people ever knowing. As a teenager, and even now, I can't fully comprehend the emotional manipulation and pressure that must have been put on girls and women like yourself. How hard was it to break out of the mindset that it was something to be ashamed of, and were there any particular triggers?

Inlovewith2014 Mon 24-Mar-14 20:52:05

Wow a very inspiring and emotional story
Thank you for sharing

Chipandspuds Mon 24-Mar-14 20:56:02

Hi Philomena,

I have recently read the book 'Philomena' by Martin Sixsmith and I found it very emotional, thank you for sharing your story.

NonnoMum Tue 25-Mar-14 18:54:15

Hello Philomena and Welcome to Mumsnet!

Just to let you know I've read the book but not seen the film. Thank you for sharing your story.

First, I am totally amazed that you have managed to keep your faith after all that you have been through. And my question is, do you have any contact with your son's partner or anyone else from his US life?

Thanks and best wishes (PS hope you've enjoyed all the celebrity spotting at the Oscars etc! ) x

over40andmumtoone Tue 25-Mar-14 20:22:32

How pleased were you with the way the film depicted your story? I've not read your book, but feel that I ned to now.

Saker Wed 26-Mar-14 08:26:34

I have seen the film but not read the book.
Were you happy with the film, obviously it portrays you as a bit naïve at times though in a very nice way - do you mind being shown like that?
I would be interested also in what happened to Mary and her mother. Did you stay in contact with her mother? It occurred to me it would be hard for her to read the book or see the film and find out about her daughter that way.

lilibet Wed 26-Mar-14 12:30:11

Hi Philomena

I think I may be in the minority here as although I know your story I haven't read the book or seen the film. I tend to avoid adoption stories as I was adopted as a baby in 1963 and the thought of anyone from my birth family trying to trace me is abhorrent to me. I have a wonderful, loving family and haven't, as I know so many have, ever wanted to trace back.

Were you prepared for this sort of reaction from your son when you started your journey and how would you have handled it?

Thanks for coming onto mumsnet.

Blondieminx Wed 26-Mar-14 12:52:20

Hi Philomena and welcome to Mumsnet. I cried buckets at the film. I greatly admire you, and think you should be made a Dame or similar for helping to expose the shocking behaviour of the church during that era. Those poor ladies and babies, terribly heartbreaking.

What one thing would you like to see happen now, for the affected mothers and children?

Sending you much love x

BewitchedBotheredandBewildered Wed 26-Mar-14 13:41:02

Hello Philomena, thank you for coming to talk to us.

I watched the film on Monday evening and cried a lot. I haven't read the book, but I will.

I have immense admiration for your capacity for forgiveness although I don't share it. I would want to see those people punished for the atrocities that they perpetrated.

I'm certain your attitude is healthier.

I would like to know if, on balance, you are pleased that you have shared your story with the world?

rainbowqueen Wed 26-Mar-14 14:37:28

Hi Philomena,

Thank you for giving us this opportunity to chat to you. I have read the book and seen the film. I enjoyed both.

The book by Martin Sixsmith seemed to focus a lot of attention on Micheal's journey discovering his sexuality. Did this bother you? Do you think Micheal would have been bothered by it? How did his partner react to it?

Teresainwirral Wed 26-Mar-14 16:54:30

Thank you mumsnet for the DVD. I really enjoyed the film, I found the part when you find out what happened to Anthony and the 'full circle' of it gut wrenchingly emotional. Did Philomena never waiver in her faith and feel the nuns were to blame?

BananaBeforeBed Wed 26-Mar-14 16:58:22

Welcome, Philomena. In the film, your forgiveness towards the nuns and the church shines through.

Has this been cobstant, or have you ever experienced other feelings towards them?

Has your son's father been in touch at all, either when you were pregnant or now, since all the publicity? If not, do you wish for contact?

How do you feel about adoption now? Do you see it having potential as a positive life choice, as they do in America, where friends of mine have become parents theough an open adoption?

Teresainwirral Wed 26-Mar-14 17:05:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hollyisalovelyname Wed 26-Mar-14 19:15:37

Philomena you are an amazing woman.
I was so sad for you that Anthony died before you could meet up.
And those nuns called themselves Christians !!!!!
Keep up the good work re Irish adoptees getting their birth records.
Unbelievable to think that adoptees in U. K. and Northern Ireland can get their birth records for the past 30/40 years yet Irish adoptees are denied that right.
The Government promise change but nothing happens.
DH adopted. He found his birth mother though. He's happy.

SacreBlue Wed 26-Mar-14 20:50:44

I admire your tenacity & courage in your journey & thank you for taking part in this web chat.

As a single mum myself I was given the opportunity to visit organisations in Europe working with single mothers, and children in care. I found it heart-breaking to see that some practices we have thankfully moved on from here in Ireland are still happening elsewhere.

How do you feel/hope your work on the film, and your own Philomena Project with the Adoption Rights Alliance, will affect international attitudes to women parenting alone?

LucToot Thu 27-Mar-14 08:37:31

Philomena, thank you for sharing your must have been devastating to discover the truth. I have just finished reading your book within my book group and was delighted to have won the DVD through mumsnet. I felt the book was very much Antony/Michael's story (almost a bit too political in the second part?!) and the film was very much your emotional interpretation. Who or why did you decide to call the story Philomena? Surely the book should have been called Antony? I'd love to hear & read more about how making the film and writing your story has changed your life?

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