Saturday, 20 October 2012

Adoption

Today is my ‘Special Day’. Forty one years ago today, my parents brought me home. Not from the hospital like most babies, but from an adoption centre. I was two months old. It was my beloved Grampey Bill’s birthday, and I was the best birthday present he had ever had!


The idea of a ‘Special Day’ was my nan’s, she thought it important that we celebrate this special day, and always remembered both mine and my brother’s (late August) until she died. My mum is not the most sentimental of people, and rarely remembers.

So unsentimental in fact, that she passed on to charity the suitcase of hand-knitted clothes I arrived with, after I had finished with them. Items made presumably by both my biological mother and members of her family. Oh how I wish she had kept at least one thing!

Perhaps, you might think, she wanted to distance herself from the fact that someone else had given birth to me, although neither of us were ever kept in the dark about our origins. The paperwork has always been readily available to us, and the stories of the first time they had set eyes on us were openly discussed. Indeed, Mummy says she used to tell us how pleased she was that she had been able to choose us and how much we were loved as she changed our nappies.

Left with horrendous scars from ill-considered ‘investigations’ and ‘trials’ throughout the Sixties, my poor mum was busy worrying about whether she would ever have a child, while the rest of the country was (allegedly) swinging.  The hurdles of the adoption process were as nothing in comparison, but there was still the form-filling, the visits, and the interminable waiting to get through.

Was it worth it?  Oh yes!  Would she do it again?  A thousand times!

I don't know whether my mum's openness is the reason, or if it is just down to personality, but I have never had any burning desire to track down or meet the person who carried me and gave birth to me.  She called me Kelly, a name which is so alien to the me I have become, but gave me the middle name I still have today, Sian, and I am grateful for that.

I will also be eternally grateful that she didn't take the perhaps slightly easier way out, and attend a clinic in good time.  Abortion must be truly horrendous, but carrying a baby to term, feeling its movements every day, and then giving birth to it, only to give it to someone else to raise and love, must be far worse.  What a strong person she must be!  That was on my mind most days when I was carrying Lara, and during her (lengthy) labour/birth.

However hard it must have been, she had her reasons.  My biological mother (what a mouthful!) was 19, a student nurse, and I was the result of an affair with a married man in his early twenties.  Not ideal!

I know some bits about both of them, as the Church of England organisation through which I was adopted thought that important.  Maybe that too is why I have never needed to search; I knew enough.

In 2001-2, I was teaching English to foreign students in London.  One morning, a new Italian student stopped me and said "Which village are you from?"  I answered with my Buckinghamshire home, to which he replied, "Yes, but x, y or z originally?", listing three possible villages in the north of Italy around Bergamo.

Apparently people who look like I do come from one of those three villages - Middle Ages in-breeding gone mad!  Spooky.  I do know that my biological father was Italian.

Perhaps one day I will venture across the continent and discover three villages full of people who look like me, a strangely comforting thought, especially as I spent the first 38 years of my life having never met anyone related to me by blood.

Forgive me for not really thinking that important though, and actually getting quite cross whenever I hear on EastEnders or the like, 'but they're your family, your blood!'  Blood in itself doesn't count for very much, as events of this year with Steve's family have unfortunately shown.

What does count is love.  The love shown when a baby cries, or cuts a tooth, a child grazes a knee, or feels the first slings and slights of society, the love that is shown every day in every smile, cuddle and kiss.  That's what counts, and that's what makes a parent, not biology.

As it turned out the 'dad' I got wasn't worth the name, and is thankfully long gone from my life by my choice, but who's to say the Italian would have been any better or worse?  I'm sure my biological parents were/are both great people, and I wish them both well.  I do sometimes wonder if it's my duty to try to find the woman who gave birth to me, if only to say, 'hey I'm OK!'  But I'm not sure what that would achieve for either of us.

Thankfully, at the ripe old age we were, and despite our dear Father Andrew's 'what if...' conversation during our wedding preparations, we were able to conceive easily and quickly, but if we had not been able to, adoption would have been an easy choice to make.

If you are reading this and wondering if it's the right thing for you, I would say go for it!  Babies may be fewer and farther between these days, but there are many, many children of different ages who need and deserve your love out there, and they will give you as much as they possibly can in return.

Seriously, adoption rocks!


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18 comments :

  1. Leta, it did cross my mind you look like one of the old Italian masters' madonnas, so I can easily believe that you have an Italian blood in you. I know that if I ever found out that my parents are not my blood parents, I would have never wanted to find out who the blood parents are. Real parents are those who love and cherish you, who spend sleepless night with you when you are unwell and wipe your tears. For me genes are irrelevant.

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    1. Thank you, I shall look at the madonnas in a new light! Quite agree on the sleepless nights bit, getting plenty of those at the moment - it must be love! Lx

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  2. I'm adopted and my family were very open about it so it was talked about a lot. Many people have asked if I would have preferred to have a normal family or similar. Not one bit. being adopted makes me who I am . I wouldnt be me unless I had all the twist and turns in my life.

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    1. Thanks Kairen, your link seems to have disappeared, will look for your posts on the subject.

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  3. Great post! I'm adopted too and really relate to a lot of what you're saying :)

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  4. I grew up believing my mum was adopted and was encouraged somewhere along the line to think her real dad was a GI in the war. Beyond that it was never discussed. In later life I discovered this was made up and my mum was born after my grandad had an affair. My nan looked after her, with my grandad, this outwardly kind act in fact masked a complicated and painful childhood for my mum which has had far-reaching consequences to do with self-esteem and wellbeing. I would like to know more about her real mum, but it's a taboo in our family.

    Your inspiring post with such a positive outlook shows how adoption is often a wonderful step. My family's experience is a complete muddle x

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    1. Gosh, what a mess, Lin! How awful that someone's attempts to do the right thing, at least in their eyes, should go so disastrously wrong. Your poor mum, how very sad.

      Thank you for finding my post about the subject more positive, Lx

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  5. Popping in from the BritMums link up and just wanted to tell you how touching your story is. I lived in Italy for almost 20 years so the mention of the villages caught my eye but I don't know them myself.

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  6. Great post. I love your paragraph beginning "what does count is love...". It sent a shiver up my spine. We're adopting a 5 year old, bringing her home this week! Here's my blog...http://dear-daughter-our-adoption.blogspot.co.uk/

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  7. Lovely post coverning so much valuable ground about adoption. I am adopted and my roots are in Ireland and once at some obscure training event about yoga, I met someone from my birth mum's village which apparently is little more than a crossorads. Spooky!
    I too have a special day which is 5th November. I lost my Dad recently and Mum in 2009 so it will be very strange to mark it without them.
    Well done on encouraging others to give children a chance.

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  8. Such a beautiful and honest post, really inspiring

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  9. This is such a beautiful portrayal of adoption. I appreciate your honesty too in expressing that searching for your birth family is not something that you feel you want to do at this point in your life. I think it's wonderful that your mom was so open with you about your adoption. Five of our kids are adopted and I am very open with them about it. It's good to hear from someone who experienced that that it was a positive thing.

    Thanks for linking to Adoption Blog Hop!

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  10. Hi, I love this post, and I agree, adoption does rock. When my son is able to read, I will direct him to this. Brilliant stuff. Feel free to check out my blog about adoption, thanks.

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  11. I think it is wonderful that some birth parents give the gift and joy of having children to the adoptive families I know it isnt always sunshine and rainbows but there is alot of lovr when people adopt to a forever family Ty for sharing your story :)

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  12. Really enjoyed this post. Thank you. Everyone's adoption experience is unique I guess. My adopted daughter, 9, is already hankering after finding and 'knowing' her mother.

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  13. Thank you for sharing this, I really enjoyed reading it. I think my heart broke a little at the thought of all those sweet handmade items being given away :-(

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  14. It's so important for us adoptive parents to understand that every adoptees experience is personal and there isn't one way to feel. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

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