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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