Finally, the adoption file has been read. Has it provided that one vital piece of information that will lead me directly to my birth mother? No, but I am getting closer, more on that later.
The adoption process was very different in those days that’s for sure. The assessment of my adoptive parents is probably the polar opposite of todays procedures. The whole assessment is no more than two pages long and the worker appeared particularly impressed that even though my adoptive father was on a low wage (£8.15 shillings a week) the family were saving for a car, so were clearly of good character and highly suited to adopting a baby. A bit slim in terms of evidence of potential parenting skills I know, but, no matter, just to double check all would be well they obtained a ‘satisfactory reference from a neighbour’, oh! Whilst some parts of the file really made me laugh, was my whole future really based on the potential purchase of a Ford Anglia?, other parts were just, well sad. One sentence in particular brought tears to my eyes when it says of my adoptive parents ‘they are anxious to adopt this baby whom she and her husband have grown to love’. My relationship with my adoptive parents was not great, to be honest it was a real shock to read they loved me. When did I stop feeling loved I wonder? In truth my adoption affected everyone of us in the family, it was shrouded in secrecy and shame, never ever spoken about but ever present. I was never told of my adoption or the circumstances that led to my adoption, and no one in my family will speak about it, indeed my older sister still refuses to acknowledge I’m adopted.
It was pleasing to read in the file that my birth mother seemed to disengage with the process – she did not respond to letters or keep appointments, and even lied about knowing the whereabouts of her husband so he could not confirm he was not my father, thus holding up the adoption process for several months. What does this all mean, well in the absence of hard evidence I choose to believe she was having second thoughts, maybe the reality of being a woman from a minority ethnic group trying to raise an illegitimate child on her own, with no family support (her family were in India), won out in the end and she did what she thought was best for me, and possibly her only option.
It was strange seeing me referred to as ‘Baby Evans’ and ‘Susan Evans’ and telling of the social context of the time that my mother is not referred to by name but as ‘the child’s mother’, it is also noted ‘Baby Evans’ is illegitimate throughout. There is nothing regarding my mothers Asian ethnicity, nor anything about what she might look like or family history. All things I have subsequently found out over the course of the last 34 years. These things have been extremely important to me in helping me understand more about who I am and where I come from and have given me a real sense of identity and worth.Thank goodness that has changed now and adopted children are given more information about their birth family.
Whilst the file has not led me to my birth mother it has unexpectedly led me to rethink the relationship with my adoptive mother. To read that she had grown to love ‘Baby Evans’ has changed the way I see her. Over the years I have often wondered why she adopted me , because I often felt unwanted to be honest, but at this moment in her life, 12th May 1961, the reason she adopted me is officially recorded as love, hmm ‘sometimes it’s hard to recognise, love comes as a surprise, and it’s too late…….’ she died in 1994 (Human League, Together).
This is not the end of my search though, there has been a significant development. At the end of last year I applied to appear on the ITV programme ‘Lost Families’. Amazingly, out of thousands I was selected as a potential participant. They came and interviewed me, and lo and behold they decided to include my story in the programme!
And so the next step began, the most significant of my life. An end is in sight, or is it a new beginning, or the beginning of the end, who knows. All I do know is that whatever the outcome I cannot stop now. So I try to prepare for every eventuality, and hope for the best.
(This is the 3rd in the ‘Adoption File’ blogs, the full story, with outcome of my search, can be read in a free ibook available here <a href="here“>) You will need an ipad to read it though. I hope you find it interesting.