Real-life Philomena Honored By Los Angeles Mayor

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February 14, 2014 | 3:56am EST

Philomena Lee, the real-life inspiration for the film Philomena, was honored by the mayor of Los Angeles on Tuesday for her adoption rights work.
The Irish woman’s true story of her search for the son she was forced to give up for adoption in the 1950s was brought to life by Steve Coogan and Dame Judi Dench in the acclaimed movie, and now Lee is garnering her own recognition.
Although L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti was not on hand for the event, he signed a certificate of recognition and noted her good work in a statement that reads: “I am proud to welcome Ms. Philomena Lee to Los Angeles. I am inspired by her story. We hope that this recognition helps in some way to raise awareness of the the issue of forced adoptions and to shine a light on the past to open the way for the healing of so many mothers and their lost children.”
Following the ceremony, Lee admitted all the attention she has received over the past few months has been a little overwhelming, telling the Los Angeles Times, “Just a few weeks ago, I was just an ordinary housewife. And then all of a sudden, this has just snowballed. I’m coping with it as much as I can.”
The accolade comes less than a week after Coogan and Lee met with Pope Francis in Rome, Italy, where they participated in a press conference as part of a campaign to urge Catholic Church officials in Ireland to release thousands of adoption files.
Lee has a chance to earn even more recognition on 2 March at the Academy Awards – Philomena is nominated in three categories, including Best Picture.