His story is the subject of a major new movie, 'Philomena' (directed by Stephen Frears and starring Judie Dench and Steve Coogan)due for release in November.
The movie is based on Martin Sixsmith's book:
Philomena Lee's family dispatched her to Sean Ross Abbey in Tipperary after she became pregnant. Her child, Anthony, was adopted, aged 3, by a couple from Missouri. he was renamed Michael Hess.
Mike Hess became an attorney, and eventually became a major figure in the Reagan-era Republican Party. He was hiding the fact that he was gay. In the mid-90s he died of Aids.
Both mother and son had made numerous attempts to find each other, but were repeatedly blocked by the nuns at Sean Ross Abbey.
Sixsmith, a journalist, stumbled across the story and was able to help Philomena Lee to establish her son's identity and visit his grave.
Sixsmith's account of the saga:
The Catholic church sold my child | Life and style | The Guardian
Secrets and lies: Martin Sixsmith on the trail of a boy ripped from his mother - Features - Books - The Independent
In addition to Mike and Philomena's quest, I discovered the thousands of other lost "orphans" whose lives were changed for ever by the greed and hypocrisy of church and state. Like Michael, many of them are still looking for their parents and, through them, for their identity.