That’s me with the fancy haircut and missing front tooth.
I am a firm believer in nurture over nature. My story I think proves that. It also underlines the importance of how major events can affect a child, not only for a few years but for the rest of their life.
I am the way I am today, because of what happened to me when I was too small to do anything about it. I am not bitter about it, I hold no grudges. I just know I would be such a different person if things had gone differently, but if that was the case I wouldn’t have the two beautiful children and two wonderful stepsons, I do.
Well here it is, My Story – The Beginning
I was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire in 1975, to Irish parents who had met in England. I had one elder brother and 18 months later a baby sister arrived. In an ambulance at the side of the road in a blizzard!/ I’ve no memories at all of this time, so I cannot say if it was a happy time or not. My earliest memories are not for some years, when I was in the orphanage.
I know how we came to be in the orphanage as I was told the story by social workers and my adopted parents.
For whatever reason my parents relationship did not last, and my mother decided to return to her family in Ireland. Whatever happened and what the reasons are I do not know, but, she telephoned a friend of hers from the train station and asked her to take my sister and I. Her and my older brother returned to Ireland, where she married a man, whom she had courted before she had gone to England. Telling him that my older brother was his son.
Our Father was a truck driver and tried his hardest to raise us and continue working, with help from a neighbour who would babysit us whilst he was away working. I became unruly, and after an incident with a pair of scissors. Allegedly I attempted to stab one of the childminders children. Needless to say she decided enough was enough and told our Dad she could no longer look after us. He made the decision to put us up for adoption, believing we would have a better life.
The Sisters Of Mercy Poor Child Jesus Orphanage in Southam was to be our home for the next few years. Again, not many memories of this period, but I will share the few I have with you now.
I remember wetting myself in the preschool we attended in the orphanage grounds. My wet pants and trousers were wrapped in newspaper and tied with string. When I returned to the Nuns, i was given a beating for wetting myself.
Another night I woke in the dorm. This was a long room, with a row of beds either side, separated by curtains, like in a hospital. The toilet was at one end of the dorm, so I set off as quietly as I could. Not quiet enough. Without warning, my hand was grabbed, I was spun around 180 degrees back the way I had come, my backside being smacked and taken back to my bed. My crime, being out of bed at night.I lay there awake the rest of the night, terrified to sleep unless I wet the bed.
There were some happier memories. I remember a lady called Doreen. A civilian employee who used to look after us. She helped me many a morning, hide my uneaten Weetabix and porridge in the bin, so the Nuns wouldn’t know I hadn’t eaten it. To this day I can’t stand weetabix or porridge!
There was an over sized tricycle that we used to ride down the hill in the yard of the orphanage, laughing as the wind blew our hair. If only for a moment we were normal children playing.
We were told by our adopted parents that our Dad used to come and visit us, but I’ve no recollection of these visits. I do have one photo of us with him.
One day we were given the news all children in care want to hear. A couple wanted to adopt us. I often joke that they wanted a small cute girl, and I was the booby prize. Red hair, freckles and old enough to know they weren’t my real parents, but too young to understand that this would be the best thing that could happen to me.
What follows in these situations, are a series of meetings with the prospective adopters. Day trips to the park, a walk in the church grounds, ice cream. Always either with a social worker, or followed by a visit to her office. Where we would colour pictures, to distract us, and the social worker would tell the above story and then tell us about our new parents.
As a five year old I don’t think I realised the enormity of what was happening. I think I thought it was just a day out and a bit of fun.
Americans, both teachers who wanted to make my sister and I their children. These visits continued for a while, then we moved to the next stage of the adoption process. Going to their house for the day, weekend and then finally moving in with them.
At this point the adoption is still not legally finalized, and the process can be stopped. A few years later we went to court for the adoption to be made legal. I’ll cover that another day, as I can remember that event like it happened yesterday!
For now thanks for reading.