It was the hour, in Sicily, when all is quiet, the streets are deserted and people are sleeping off lunch so if, like me, you love your computer, you know that you can abandon yourself to it as no one will bother you until late afternoon. It was the end of May, the summer heat was beginning to make itself felt and I was glad of this peaceful oasis in the day.
Then I happened to glance at my facebook page for this blog and saw the message that would change my life. The writer, whom I didn't know, said she worked for Norfolk County Council in the UK and asked me to contact her. Norfolk? I'd never been there - well, I had been born there, but I have no memory of the area, having been adopted at nine months and taken by my Welsh adoptive parents, whom I adored as my own, to Bristol. The thought went through my mind: "This is something to do with the adoption." But how could it be, after 64 years?
This story, you see, begins in cold, postwar Britain, a country very different from the vibrant UK of today, and in a society where unmarried mothers met with disapproval at the least and, in the worst of cases, downright cruelty. My birth mother, who already had a three-year-old daughter by another father, had no money to bring up a second child. There was pressure to give me up for adoption from all sides and there was no state help. What else could she have done? She had wanted me to have a chance....
I forced my mind back to the present, wrote the Norfolk lady an email and waited. And waited some more. After a few days, the delay having been caused by annual leave, I received a reply:
"I work for the county adoption service and have been contacted by a possible birth relative."
We agreed to speak on the phone.
Who had made the contact? I realised that it was unlikely to have been my birth mother, for I knew, from the adoption documents, that she had been 29 in 1950. There was only one other person that I thought it could be, but I was afraid to hope. Perhaps it was a more distant relative.
It was another week before the very kind lady from the adoption department and I actually spoke as we kept missing each other but finally we managed it:
"It's your birth sister who is looking for you."
To be continued.