|THE MOMENT OF DREAD|
|(From a researcher who wishes to remain anonymous)|
|After more than thirty years, the pain of being forced to give up her child for adoption is still etched on Miss X's memory, and has yet to begin fading.
The period was the 1960's - an era of free love and harmony. In a British hospital, a 16-year-old girl cuddled her newborn baby and felt nothing but dread. She was about to lose her daughter because society decreed that it was the right thing for a young, unmarried mother to do. Her baby was going to be adopted and, unbeknown to Miss X, that would be the last she ever saw or heard of her.
Today, more than thirty years later, not a single day passes without Miss X thinking about her daughter.
Miss X likens the time leading up to the handover of her twelve-day-old baby girl to waiting for an execution and believes that the whole adoption process in Britain is in urgent need of a radical overhaul. "I suddenly realised why I felt so strongly when watching execution scenes in films," she says. "It summed up exactly how I felt. I knew that the dreaded moment would come to give up my children and there was absolutely nothing that I could do about it."
"I remember looking at the adoption form before I signed it and the implication was that it was my choice. But this was simply not so. I was only going along with what everyone else was telling me that I had to do. I just felt that there was no hope."
She claims that the British adoption system is designed in the interests of childless couples and ignores the rights of the natural mother. "People feel that natural mothers have no rights because they give their baby away," says Miss X. "They think, You didn't want them then, why should you have them now?" But, in most cases, this simply isn't true.
"When I had my daughter, young women were put into mother-and-baby homes prior to having their children adopted and they were totally isolated. No one spoke to them. After they had given up their babies, they were told to forget about the whole matter and to get on with the rest of their lives."
"There was no counselling, support or encouragement. Women were left grieving for their babies but didn't understand why, because no one had told them what to expect. It was so cruel. Many women found that they couldn't go on to form new relationships, or have more children, because they were so deeply scarred."
Today, if a natural mother wishes to get in touch with her child, she can go back to her adoption agency for advice. However, until 1976, natural mothers were not encouraged to find out about their adopted children. Miss X, who had no more children, believes that this was a mistake.
"Children inherit parental traits," she says. "If I only knew where my daughter was today, I could tell her about a genetic condition that she might have inherited which, if discovered early enough, is easily treated. But I can't, because I don't know where she is."
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|Anyone who has had their child adopted in Britain and would now like some help or advice, might do well to consider contacting The British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering on the London telephone number 020 - 7593 2000.
In certain circumstances, the Gooderson Archive may also be able to assist in re-uniting adopted children with their natural parent or parents. For further information about this, please contact the Archive by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org