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Tuesday, 2 November 2010

National Adoption Week - how I came to my Mum and Dad

It is National Adoption Week and I will be blogging all week about various aspects of the issue and from different viewpoints.

Following feedback on yesterday's post, I think it is important to say that I am pleased that I came to my adoptive family and have had a very full and fundamentally happy life. I hope yesterday's post was not self-pitying - I was just picking out a few bullet points on how adoption crops up throughout your life.

My story started in a Roman Catholic Church in Dewsbury in West Yorkshire. Mum and Dad had two sons both in their late teens. They worked hard and their lives revolved around the church and the Irish National Club.

After having the boys, Mum had a gall bladder operation and in a roundabout way, this resulted in her not being able to have any more babies. She longed for a girl. I think she wanted to give a daughter all the things she had not had in her poverty-stricken girlhood in the twenties and thirties.

Apparently, Mum and Dad had talked about adoption on many occasions but not really done much about it. They did offer to adopt a family baby once when my cousin got a young girl pregnant. My Auntie would not go with that and I can see it from both points of view. Mum, in fairly typical emotive language, told my Auntie she had no right to take a child out of the family. The child was adopted and I don't know anything else about that. I hope it had as good an experience as I did.

One Easter Sunday, Mum was at Mass and felt a huge impetus that a little girl was waiting for her. She made Dad drive her to the Catholic Children's Adoption Agency and banged on the door till they let her in. Mum was very good at not taking no for an answer.

There were barriers to Mum and Dad adopting as by now they were in their forties and so quite old in those days when babies were readily available for adoption. They had to have special interviews and be visited and questioned by social workers and priests. Both my brothers recall these visits and how they wanted to go out but had to stay in to say they were happy about having a new sibling.

Mum and Dad told me about the day they met me. I was given to Mum and she gave me a bottle. Mum says it was like I was hers from the start. Knowing me, I was probably more focussed on the bottle than the woman!

Mum also tells me how she heard a wailing in the building and it was only later that she became aware that was my birth mother who had brought me on the train from London as the social worker was on strike. My Mum always told me never to think my birth mum did not care because nobody who didn't could have made such a noise.

It is odd that it is National Adoption Week this week as it is the very week when Mum and Dad took me home. Mum told me how they drove me from Leeds to Dewsbury on Bonfire Night and it was like everyone was lighting fires to celebrate my arrival. Not to mention that along with me came fireworks lol. Those that know me might say nowt changed much there!

When they got in, I was given a bath by my brother. My other brother got himself in trouble by parading me in the pram up and down the street. Everyone thought I must be his love-child. Family, friends and even the milkman brought presents as if I was the new Messiah or summat.

There was a lovely Christmas very soon afterwards of course. Mum loved it because she felt it was like returning to when she had her boys little rather than almost-grown men.

I was not officially adopted until February in 1970. By now, my adoptive parents were in sheer terror that my birth mum would turn up at the court hearing and stop the adoption going ahead. Mum had already made plans to snatch me if this happened and take me to America where she had family members.

I now know that my birth mum did have mixed feelings about putting myself and the other children up for adoption. However, in February 1970, I became an official member of my forever home. Despite Mum's passing last year, it still is my forever home and I thank both my parents for taking me on.


  1. God that made me cry hunni. Brilliant piece of writing and great to read someones experience of adoption which can be such a taboo subject.

  2. As a mum of two adopted boys, I found your piece very moving - thank you for sharing this with us

  3. http://gigglingatitall.blogspot.com3 November 2010 at 07:27

    You do a great job and it's a huge learning curve for everyone but then so is all parenting and life itself.
    Glad you were moved

  4. Thanks to Hayley and Cherry Jam

    Hope Hayley cried in a good way

    Adoption should not be taboo - that is the reason there is trauma attached too often particularly in older cases. Much has changed for the better these days.

  5. I used to sit next to someone at work who was going through the adoption process - she adopted two girls while we worked together. One of the girls was older - 5.5 - when she was adopted. I think a little bit of my heart broke forever when my friend told me that her daughter had started asking what would have happened to her if they hadn't adopted her. So sad to think of children worrying about that :( My friends reply was perfect though - that children always find the family they are meant to live in. It sounds like it was like that for you and your mum too. Thanks for sharing a beautiful story.