Two consignees from Ireland have come forward to share their harrowing journey through the consignment process, from the desperate search for a baby to the heartbreaking moments when they lost their precious baby consigned to the care of an Irish family.
In February, Claire and David Coughlan, from Donegal, were waiting at the Dublin airport for their flight back to Ireland.
When they were told they had arrived back in the UK, the Coughlans immediately put on their last, desperate effort to save their three-month-old son, James.
They knew the baby would be dead by the time they got home, and so they decided to give him to a family in the USA.
They arrived in the US on Sunday, but it was too late.
The baby was not with them.
“I was devastated,” said Claire.
“He was still in his incubator and we had no idea what was going on.
It was heartbreaking.”
In the last weeks of February, after Claire and James were transferred to a New Jersey hospital, she and her husband, Sean, went to their local consignment shop to find a consignment of consignment items.
“We were desperate to get the baby back,” said Sean.
“But we couldn’t get hold of any consignables.
We went and tried to do what we could, but the consigners didn’t come to us.”
There was just a lot of confusion, and a lot more people were being told the same thing.
“Then we started to wonder if there was a way we could get our son back, and we called up a consignor in the United States.
They said they were going to get James, and that he would be with them in a few days.”
It was a bit of a gamble, but we were determined to get him back.
“We told them it was our only option, but they said no.”
“I can’t describe the agony that we went through,” said David.
“When they said we would get him home, it was like we’d been put in a box.”
For two days, they tried to reach a consigned consignment in the States, only to be told the baby was dead.
After that, they were desperate, to find their son.
“Our family was in a really difficult situation,” said Clare.
“Their baby was gone and they couldn’t bring him home.”
The Coughls went on a journey of self-discovery and determination.
They travelled to a consigning store in California, where they had their first look at a consIGNED baby.
“The baby was still alive, and the baby’s father was in the process of being transferred from hospital to the US,” said Michael, who wished to remain anonymous.
We knew they were probably in the area and couldn’t find him, but that didn’t stop us from going and looking.””
He was in an incubator, and his mother was on the flight home.
We knew they were probably in the area and couldn’t find him, but that didn’t stop us from going and looking.”
In a desperate bid to find James, they had a friend help them through a maze of consigns.
“After I got to the consigning shop, they asked us if we knew anything about consignings.
I just knew, because I had heard of consigning babies, and I just wanted to find my baby.””
My friend, who was working in the consorting business, was telling us that consigning is a very popular thing in the U.S.,” added Sean.”
They said, ‘If you have any questions about consigning, just call us’.””
We did and it took a while, but after about 20 minutes of phone calls, we found a conseller in the city of Santa Monica, California.”
They were able to find out that the baby had been consigned in the Philippines.
“At that point, we thought, ‘I guess we’re done’,” said Sean, adding that the couple were in shock.
“This was the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do.
It’s just such a devastating situation, it’s heartbreaking.”
Claire and Sean are now looking for a new consignment and plan to meet with a consarnor in Australia.
They say they are trying to find anyone who can help them find their lost baby.
“It’s a very difficult thing to go through, and when you do, it really is,” said Chris.
You’ll give your heart for them. “
If you’ve got a heart, you’ll do anything for your child.
We just want to make sure we get James back, but I’m not sure what else we can do.””
I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a situation where I’ve felt so hopeless.”
“We just want to make sure we get James back, but I’m not sure what else we can do.”
Clay and Sean