Friday, November 28, 2014

OUT OF THE PAST - 5

Jill with our mother
Me with my mother
If anyone had told me a year ago that tonight I would be looking through an album of photos of my birth mother, given to me by a sister who had found me after 64 years, I would not have believed them. Jill brought the album when she visited me in October and there are photos of her, of my lovely new brother-in-law and of their children, too. On the front of the album the words, "To Pat from your family" are inscribed in gold and that means so much to me.

Every night I gaze at my birth mother's face, the first face I ever saw, and I find myself stroking her hair in the photos and saying,

"It's all right. I understand."

Then I pick up a picture of my other mum, the one who brought me up, and, running my fingers over the image of the face I knew so well, I tell her,

"It's all right. You're still my mum."

In the four months between our first contact and our meeting, Jill and I had exchanged many messages and letters and we were at ease with each other. The opportunity to learn more about my birth family was a gift that I had never thought I would have but of course there was sadness too: with one letter Jill enclosed a document showing that my birth mum had tried to find me in 1986 and I was so sorry that we had missed each other.

As I understand it, the adoption law in Britain was changed in 1975, making it possible for birth mothers and adoptees to have contact provided both wanted it and that the adoptee had gone through a period of counselling. For this to be possible, both parties had to register their interest with the General Register Office.  The document I received from Jill is a brief, cold, to-the-point letter to my birth mum, telling her that her interest had been "noted" and that, should I apply to the same office for access to my birth records, the counsellor dealing with me would be informed. Nothing else, no promises and not even a sentence at the end offering to help with any other queries regarding the process. The letter contains hand-written alterations and additions - I'm sure we had correction fluid by 1986! - and is dismissive in tone. Or is it just the heartlessness of officialdom?

In 1986 I was 36 years old, was being a career woman and generally battling with life. I had had an accident the year before which had led me to have three operations and I wasn't particularly well. This makes me wonder if my birth mum sensed it in some way; I believe it is possible. I have explained my reasons for not trying to find her here but I had no need to apply to the General Register Office for my birth records as I knew the story and I had the adoption documents. As I have said previously, we all do what we think is best at a given time.

Some years later Jill rang the General Register Office number that is on the letter and found it to be obsolete. Not even knowing my surname, what could she do? But she didn't give up and her friends knew of her quest. One day, a friend of hers heard that there was a conference in London for people trying to find adopted relatives and he attended on her behalf. That is where he was given the contact details for the lady from the Norfolk County Council Adoption Department and these he passed on to Jill. This was the lady who found me that day in May. I cannot thank Jill's friend and the Norfolk lady enough.

November 1950, the month in which I was adopted, was exceptionally rainy even for the UK and all these years later, at the end of an unusually dry November in my part of Sicily, here I am with photos of my birth mum to cherish and a new family to love. Christmas is approaching and believe me, I know the extent to which the festive season can make you feel like an outcast if you are on your own. So I would like to tell you this: two years ago, in November, an incredibly difficult period began for me and I reached a very low point. If you ever feel as bad as that, please hold on: yes, life can fall apart but it can also become wonderful again just when you don't expect it. Please, please, hold on.....

To be continued.

13 comments:

rosaria williams said...

What a wonderful story. I'm so happy for you.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thank you, Rosaria,

Trubes said...

I remember you feeling low a couple of years ago and I'm so glad you rose above it all to be able to enjoy your long lost family.
Officialdom stinks, particularly when dealing with matters concerning children.
Jill sounds such a lovely lady and I'm so glad she's found you.
Take care and, love to you and darling Simi, from Di and Chloe purr purr xxx

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Trubes and thank you so much for your kind words. Yes, Jill is everything I could wish for in a sister. Love to all of you from us. xx and waggiewoofs

Lee said...

It is a sad story in part, but it also is one filled with so much happiness and love, Pat.

We're never really he authors of our life, are we? The story begins when we have absolutely no control over our life...we're in the hands of others.

Through so much adversity; so many hurdles along the way, you've made it to this point. Jill and you finally found each other. Both of you have so much to share and an abundance of love to give to each other. Also, you've gained a whole new family who now are a part, a major part of you. You're not alone.

You didn't know your biological mother, but you were always in her heart and she, in yours.

And you had the love of the mother who opened her heart, her arms and her home to you; who brought you into her life; a generous, loving soul who raised you; who loved and cared for you dearly; who guided you to become the woman you are. What a good, wonderful person she was.

CherryPie said...

Your continuing tales are so heartwarming and uplifting :-)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thank you, Lee, for your kindness. Yes, both my mums were wonderful people and Jill and her family are wonderful too.
Thank you, Cherrie. It is so nice of you to say so.

Jeff Titelius said...

Oh Pat, what a wonderfully inspiring story and even though you never met your mum face to face, the love was there...her love and your love and the two of you are forever together.

Thank God your sister found you, at least you have some closure. I can't imagine the hardships that one who has been separated from their birth mother feels, it must be heartbreaking but now the love transcends time and distance. The rest will come in heaven.

Love to you and little Simi too!! WOOFS!!! XOXO

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Jeff and thank you for commenting. I always wondered about my birth mum but I can't honestly say there were any hardships, because I was loved. However, it's good to know about her and wonderful to have my sister at last. Wags from Simi xx

Gledwood said...

It's weird, I was on the phone to my family talking about this type of stuff the other day (I'm not adopted) but saying how, under the old system how the staff everywhere must have considered it unfair as just about EVERYWHERE, the world over full and careful records were kept just so that in the eventuality that the situation changed, people COULD get in touch... I'm glad you at least know where you come from... you know?... It's heartbreaking all this adoption stuff. I was estranged from/out of contact with my mother all throughout my teenage years thanks to divorce and a bodge-up of a Family Court situation... and that was bad enough so I can't imagine how you felt and still feel... Anyway here is a big cyber hug. O **(isn't it meant to be an O?
O again
& XXXXXXX
:-)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Gleds. I'm sorry you went through all that. I am sad that I didn't know my birth mum and about the pain she must have suffered. I was lucky, though - I was very much loved.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hi Pat , I remember you feeling so low a few years ago too, you have risen above it and so much to enjoy now. You were loved by your mum and dad, which is something that a lot of children do not have and I think is so important.

Love to you and Simi xx

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Anne and thank you. xx

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