“The 12-Year-Old-Mum: My True Story.” That’s the arresting title of Tressa Middleton’s autobiography, a story of the resilience and determination of a young girl whom life has been cruel to, who becomes a young woman embracing a much more positive future.
The event that changed the course of Middleton’s life happened in 2006, when she became Britain’s youngest mum at age 12. Her pregnancy at 11 years of age was the product of rape. The rapist was Middleton’s own brother, Jason, who was 16 at the time.
Determined to look after her infant daughter, no matter how she was conceived, Middleton raised her for two years, and kept the father’s identity a secret.
Tressa Middleton talks to ‘This Morning’ on ITV. Post continues after…
When the truth was discovered, the toddler was removed from her mother’s care, against her will, and officially adopted out in 2008. The adoption was, and continues to be, a source of loss and grief for the young mother.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Middleton, now 24, said, “Not having my daughter with me still affects me every single day and I thought I was being punished for what happened with her, for letting her go.”
Although she wasn’t given a genuine choice, Middleton naturally feels enormous guilt about her first daughter. Her book details her struggle with addiction in the years that followed the adoption, and the tumultuous family life she had experienced until that point.
When she was four years old, Middleton was taken into care amidst dire poverty and neglect. Soon after she was reunited with her mother, her brother began abusing her when she was just 7-years-old.
But knowing that the secret would destroy the mere semblance of a family which she desperately held on to, Middleton wouldn’t expose her brother’s abuse until she was finally forced to. That revelation led to her daughter being taken away from her.
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It’s difficult to see how the young girl survived all of this, and how she eventually grew to be an adult capable of telling her story. But Middleton’s journey is ultimately one of triumph of the human spirit, and a demonstration of what genuine love can achieve. In October 2017, Middleton and her fiancée Darren Young welcomed their a new baby, their daughter, Arihanna.
Middleton told the Daily Mirror, “I felt pure joy the moment Arihanna was born. There were times I thought I’d never have another baby.”
It’s apparent that Middleton’s optimism is what’s saved her throughout her very difficult life.
“I am so grateful I am finally going to be the mother I have longed to be all these years.”
But the path to the daughter that would fulfil that dream had its own challenges.
In a cruel twist of fate, Middleton struggled to have a second baby, and even suffered a miscarriage.
But when she did eventually believe that she would carry her next pregnancy to term, she felt it was "bittersweet." She hoped that one day the two sisters will be able to meet.
Middleton's first daughter used to write to her every six months, but ceased contact more than a year ago, and it's something Middleton has had to work hard at making peace with. But she's done it.
“I had to face the reality that my daughter has moved on with another family," she told The Daily Mirror.
Middleton considered attempting to seek custody of her daughter, but decided that it would be a "selfish" thing to do, and that she should allow her daughter to be something that she wasn't able to at the same age - a child.
So the young mum is concentrating on her second chance at motherhood; a chance to be a family with a child that she never thought she'd have, thanks to an opportunity she created for herself because she knew she deserved it.