I don’t often talk about being adopted.
This family was my family. But they’re not my birth parents.
I was adopted in 1967 from Guernsey and I’m so grateful to Jean and David Bernard for making me their son.
I’ve since found my birth mum Pauline.
Having met Pauline about 15 years ago, she said she always knew I’d find her again.
In Guernsey in the 1960s attitudes were more Victorian than 20th Century. Unmarried and with a ‘runner’ she was left at the mercy of her family.
Her Grandma said she could keep me …and ‘wear me like a badge of shame’ and her Dad said he’d kick her out if she kept me.
She then met a man who wouldn’t ‘bring up another man’s child’ so she had no choice.
I was placed in a Home, where I was cared for by nuns until I was adopted by Jean and ‘Jock’.
Pauline is happy and has been married for 40+ years and has two daughters.
We all support Arsenal and love music. Turns out I’m Irish in heritage and get on well when we (infrequently) see each other.
My sister was also adopted in 1970. A secret ‘blended family’.
The secret bit was the problem…as secrets often are in families.
Because I wanted a passport of my own to go on holiday with my then-girlfriend at 17 I hassled and hassled my mum for my Birth Certificate.
After days she snapped “we don’t want anymore like you, do we?”
“What do you mean by that?” I asked.
My mum looked at me and said, eyes looking straight at me “you were adopted weren’t you?”
I. Was. Speechless.
I had no idea. None at all.
“Don’t tell your sister, she’s adopted too…”
What did I do…?
Of course, I went to Sarah’s room, knocked on and looked in.
“Mum’s just told me we’re both adopted”.
I turned and walked down the stairs, collected my Walkman and toothbrush and went to my friend Joe’s house to hide and growl and smoke and drink and cry and growl more.
Eventually I calmed down and went home 3 days later.
I got my Adoption Certificate. I got my passport and then went to Benidorm with my then girlfriend (and got three weeks suspension from school because the Head said I couldn’t go in school time).
I used this ‘deceit’ as another thing to fuel my anger, self-destructive and aggressive behaviour and found out how off the rails I was when I got an E and a U at A Level.
Eventually after leaving home for college (and to reinvent myself) I looked back with gratitude…I’d been lucky.
Lucky enough to be adopted and brought up as someone’s son, someone’s brother and not left in a home or the care system.
I wasn’t going to find my birth mother. I thought I’d been lucky and had a complicated-enough family as it was.
When my Dad, Jock died I decided to get some help and find my birth mother because, if Dad had died, what if I never found my birth mother and left her wanting to meet me – or me wanting t meet her?
I spoke to After Adoption in Manchester and they were brilliant. Really helpful and professional.
Because Pauline hasn’t moved many times and was still on the South Coast, Christine – my After Adoption Counsellor – found her relatively quickly.
Within a week Pauline and I had spoken for 3 hours on the phone and met 3 months later.
I truly am lucky.
It’s #NationalAdoiptionWeek – have a look at the hashtag and read some of the incredible stories…could you help someone with your story?
PS: would anyone be interested in me doing a keynote talk telling my story and creating space for a Q&A or discussion afterwards?