The significance of the publication of the mother-and-baby homes Commission of Investigation final report cannot be underestimated.

The significance of the publication of the mother-and-baby homes Commission of Investigation final report cannot be underestimated.
It shines a light on a history that permeates today.
For researchers like those involved with the Clann project and those who have been campaigning for years on the subject of mother-and-baby homes, parts of the report will not be new. 
For others, it will show them how society evolved between the 1920s and the 1990s. 
Legislative changes like the introduction of the Adoption Act in 1953 which legalised adoptions in Ireland and the introduction of the Unmarried Mothers Allowance in 1973 impacted wider society and those in mother-and-baby homes over time. 
The report by the Commission shows how young women were punished for getting pregnant out of wedlock and placed out of sight into 14 mother-and-baby homes and four county homes around the country.
Many of them were first-time mothers so they were unaware about the birthing process. 
They were not told what to expect and for those who found it traumatic, compounding the experience was their babies being taken from them.
In its executive summary, the Commission states that there is no evidence that women were forced to enter mother-and-baby homes by the church or State authorities.
It says women were brought to mother-and-baby homes by their parents or other family members without being consulted as to their destination.
The report notes the importance of a family’s standing in the community. 
Our history tells us that the role of the church and fear of its authority, particularly in the years before the 1970s dominated society at the time. 
Therefore, the decision to place a woman in a mother-and-baby home by their families can not be looked at without looking at the shame a pregnancy outside of wedlock brought on them at the time by a society led by the authority of the church.
The Commission says the Catholic Church did not invent Irish attitudes to prudent marriages or family respectability; however, it reinforced them through church teachings that emphasised the importance of pre-marital purity and the sexual dangers associated with dance halls, immodest dress, mixed bathing and other sources of “temptation”. 
This is where survivors have a difficulty. Their memories are of institutions that were run by nuns who made life difficult and many of the personal testimonies mirror that view. 
Many of the women who had their babies delivered in Castlepollard said was like “living in a jail”. 
They were told by the senior nun when they arrived that “they had been a really bad person”, even though many of the woman told the Commission they had become pregnant after being raped. 
Some also said they had signed adoption papers under duress.
The Daughters of Charity and the Good Shepard Sisters have issued statements welcoming the report. 
The Daughters of Charity which ran St Patrick’s on the Navan Road in Dublin points out that many of their sisters dedicated their lives to supporting these women to have their babies in secret.
The Archbishop of Armagh has asked all those who are in positions of leadership in the church to study the report carefully and especially to spend time reflecting on the courageous testimonies of the witnesses to the Commission.
Eamon Martin said the question needs to be asked: “How could this happen?”  
“We must identify, accept and respond to the broader issues which the Report raises about our past, present and future,” he said. 
The Commission pointed out that some former residents and lobby groups had suggested that ‘adoption’ should be renamed ‘forced adoption’. 
“The Commission does not agree,” it says. 
The Commission says it found very little evidence that children were forcibly taken from their mothers. 
It accepts that the mothers did not have much choice but it says that is not the same as ‘forced’ adoption.
From the brief nuggets survivors have managed to pull from the report this afternoon and evening, this is an issue those who have been adopted from mother-and-baby homes find difficult. 
This is just one aspect which shows why the report will take time for survivors to read and digest. There are paragraphs, testimonies and simple words, they will feel the need to cast their eyes over again and again. 
It will take time, and time is what they should be afforded.