I was removed from my mother Jane at birth and placed for adoption in 1972, during what is now known as the ‘Forced Adoption’ era.
My adoptive parents are wonderful and I have always known I was adopted. Despite knowing I was loved by them, I always felt I didn’t fit in to the family and that I had been left with ‘the wrong mother’.
Throughout my childhood, Jane was a constant presence in my mind. I dreamed and fantasised about her – what did she look like? What did her voice sound like? My adoptive parents always spoke highly of my biological parents and assumed they had loved me and wanted the very best for me. I was assured they would support me to search for them as soon as I turned 18.
Jane had attempted to make contact with me as a child, looking for reassurance that I was alive, healthy and loved. On one occasion my adoptive mother also contacted the Department for Adoption, which saw fit to allow an exchange of non-identifying information about my health.
A letter from the Department for Adoption to Jane reads, “on 9th September 1981 I wrote to you advising you of the Department’s policy not to contact adoptive parents after an adoption order has been made… It just happened that the adoptive mother of your daughter contacted me and I used this opportunity to discuss with her your continued interest in your daughter’s welfare… she agreed to write to reassure you that your daughter is well, very much loved and growing into a pretty young lady. I have enclosed her letter and trust this will bring more reassurance for you”.
When I was 15, Jane made contact with the Department once again and it was decided that we could exchange letters with a view to contact when I finished high school. Jane included a photo of herself in her first letter to me. I remember sobbing looking at her for the first time – I was struck by a feeling that my life had just begun.
I finally met Jane in 1989. All my life I’d been made to accept I might never meet the woman who gave birth to me. Despite expecting to burst into tears, I didn’t and nor did she. I simply stood smiling at Jane. It was the most wonderful moment of my life. I kept half expecting my alarm to go off and find myself waking up.
In a letter I wrote to Jane the day after we met, I reflected: “Saturday was the greatest day of my life, as I always hoped it would be. However, today does not seem quite so merry. I woke up feeling very strange. I think I miss you already. I miss not being able to ask anyone about my family. I feel like crying. Actually in the last few sentences I have been. The thing is, I feel I had known you for years once I started talking to you.”
During the two years we exchanged letters, Jane shared with me the circumstances surrounding my adoption. She also told me about her relationship with Gary and described the deep love they felt for each other. While my contact at this time was with Jane, Gary was very much in my thoughts and I was hoping to meet him in the future.