petite anglaise

December 2, 2004


Filed under: adoption, navel gazing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 11:51 pm

The year was 1972. In those days it was the done thing for single teenage mums to have their children adopted. My biological mother was fifteen when she realised she was pregnant, and no longer seeing her boyfriend.

I was adopted at birth by a couple who had been unable to conceive and had spent several years on adoption agency waiting lists.

The photographs taken of mum and dad holding me in their arms on the day they finally brought me home speak volumes. My new mum looked radiant.

I cannot remember a time when I was not aware that I was adopted. I was told when I was too young to understand so it feels like I’ve always known. Two years later when my parents began proceedings to adopt a baby brother, my mother discovered she had conceived naturally. I have two sisters. The three of us are very different, although they look similar, and I do not. But I don’t remember ever minding this fact. Or feeling less loved.

As a child I liked to shock adults by mentioning out of the blue that I was adopted and took a perverse pleasure in their visible discomfort as they tried to gauge how they should react. Being adopted made me feel a bit special. It was also full of dramatic potential. I had (I suspect very common) fantasies about my biological parents being fabulously wealthy and my one day inheriting a fortune. A favourite daydream was that I would see someone with my face walking towards me in the street and just know that we were related. A half brother or sister, or my mother herself. Or I imagined being attracted to a younger guy, only to find out that he was actually my half brother.

At the magic age of fifteen I thought a lot about the hell my biological mother must have gone through – not an easy thing to conceive of, as I hadn’t even had my first kiss at that stage – and I was deeply superstitious about history repeating itself.

Mum, a family history enthusiast, showed me all the adoption papers and even got hold of a copy of my biological mother’s birth certificate. The papers showed her maiden name, and gave scant details about her circumstances: she had met my father in the park, failed her ‘O’ Levels during the pregnancy. We knew her parents’ address, so I always knew that answers to any questions I might have were less than an hour’s drive away from where I lived with my adoptive family.

Whenever I talked about being adopted, my friends said that if they were adopted they would search for their parents. They would have to know. My reticence was a mystery to them. But it didn’t strike me as necessary to find my mother. I already had a family and, although we had our ups and down, like everyone else, I didn’t ever feel as if any important part of me was missing.

I had also convinced myself that my mother would have tried to put the whole traumatic experience behind her, and now quite possibly had a family who knew nothing of my existence. She might not want any contact with me. After watching the film ‘Secrets and Lies’, I admitted to myself that another of my fears was that my mother would be like the Brenda character, and if we ever did meet, we could well have very little in common.

So for a long time I did nothing. Until one summer’s day in 2001, when I decided to write my biological mother a letter.

click here for further posts about adoption.


  1. What a cliffhanger ! I love your blog, it’s funny and smart. Vivement la suite !

    Comment by le roncier — December 3, 2004 @ 1:13 am

  2. Please don’t keep me in suspense for too long …

    Comment by snoopy — December 3, 2004 @ 3:58 am

  3. And…?

    Comment by Claypot — December 3, 2004 @ 7:14 am

  4. Hey!! No fair..where is the rest??

    Comment by Valkyrie — December 3, 2004 @ 8:06 am

  5. To tease , tease , tease …

    Comment by Da Bourz — December 3, 2004 @ 8:19 am

  6. OOOhhhh that is evil, you minx! :P

    Comment by ViVi — December 3, 2004 @ 8:26 am

  7. You know how to hold an audience captive, don’t you? :mrgreen:

    Comment by céline — December 3, 2004 @ 9:42 am

  8. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. You know I will be back on Monday.

    Comment by Jason Stone — December 3, 2004 @ 10:20 am

  9. Glad you blogged this. :-)

    Comment by badger — December 3, 2004 @ 11:20 am

  10. i know someone who is adopted and he was in touch with his biological mother even though he lived with another family. because of this he knows that he has a half-sister and half-brother, as well as a sister that was adopted within his family.

    he was glad to have kept in touch as he was there when his biological mother died – alone.

    Comment by zed — December 3, 2004 @ 12:56 pm

  11. For the love of God. You can’t keep it like that.

    Perfect writing.

    Comment by Watski — December 3, 2004 @ 2:00 pm

  12. *impatient to hear the next instalment*

    Comment by witho — December 3, 2004 @ 2:31 pm

  13. Nice one Petite! Guaranteed to bring us all back tomorrow…

    A close friend was adopted and, as an adult, met her birth parents who were still together and who had 2 sons, her full brothers. Her father was so freaked out by her that he refused to tell the boys about her…

    She still hasn’t met them 10 years later…

    It makes me crazy for her.

    Comment by deeleea — December 3, 2004 @ 2:43 pm

  14. Ooh, that was really good. When do we get the next part?

    Comment by the manly smell — December 3, 2004 @ 3:08 pm

  15. When I was a kid, there was a lot of uncool stuff going on in our home which made me fantasise that I was adopted and one day my “real” parents would come and find me and spoil me rotten. It would really piss me off when people told me I looked like my mum!! The odd thing is, my family is from a really strict branch of religion, which my parents broke away from and were ostracised as a result. So my fantasies where I would stare at strangers in the street,wondering if we were related were sort of justified- somewhere out ther I have a huge extended family whom I shall never know. I don’t really know why i’m telling you all this, petite, what I really wanted to say is, great blog. And I can’t wait till Monday!!

    Comment by Suziboo — December 3, 2004 @ 3:08 pm

  16. I too am adopted. This almost perfectly describes my situation as well, except that I’ve never tried to contact my biological mother.

    Comment by mts — December 3, 2004 @ 3:18 pm

  17. wouah! incredible story! when i was a kid i also hoped that i was adopted, hehe…

    are you going to adopt kids too?

    Comment by miss lulu — December 3, 2004 @ 4:01 pm

  18. It’s nice to hear that you have a good relationship with your adoptive family. I’ve often heard that there can be problems with adopted kids, and I’ve seen this as I have 5 adopted cousins. I’m not sure why this is, but I am thankful it’s not a rule. My family adopted my sister when I was 7 and she was 1. She has known, like you, since she was a child that she was adopted and she really doesn’t seem to mind. Hannah has never felt less a part of our family and though we know she’s not a blood relative, it never feels that way. We love her tremendously. She’s a genius, amazingly talented and beautiful and we’re so blessed to have her, and I’m sure your family would say the same of you in a heartbeat. I am a huge advocate for adoption and I hope to be able to adopt one day as well.
    Thanks for the great post. Can’t wait to hear the rest!

    Comment by MJ — December 3, 2004 @ 4:09 pm

  19. La suite, la suite ! By the way, I liked the movie “Secret and Lies” a lot, what did you think of it?

    Comment by Estelle — December 3, 2004 @ 4:10 pm

  20. What a story teller! :) Good film that wasn’t it.

    Comment by Dan — December 3, 2004 @ 7:02 pm

  21. Umm, I’ll still he here next week when you finish this story, just don’t forget that you’ve got us all hanging on your every word! :grin:

    When I was around 4 or 5 yrs old, my cousin (same age) was adopted by one of our aunts. I remember running into the house and telling my Mom that I wanted to be adopted, too. I can’t remember her reaction, but today, I can imagine her reaction.

    Comment by yayaempress — December 3, 2004 @ 7:29 pm

  22. it’s FRIDAY! do we have to wait till you get back in the office to get the next bit?????? aaagh! can’t wait! ;)

    Comment by vitriolica — December 3, 2004 @ 9:12 pm

  23. Beautiful! You could be telling my story almost to the letter. How many times can I think to myself “wow! me too!!” during one reading?
    We have the same birth year, a good enough relationship with adoptive parents to contemplate NOT trying to contact birth parents, and apparently the same fantasies stemming from being adopted.

    I often wonder how much of me (interests, talents, looks, etc) comes from genetics, and how much comes from the only parents I’ve ever known. (Nature vs. Nurture) -perhaps you too?

    Thanks for this – it’s nice to not feel quite so alone from time to time. I eagerly await the rest of the story.

    Comment by Epiphany — December 3, 2004 @ 9:51 pm

  24. *begins to fret about the fact that she has not even started to draft the next instalment*

    Comment by petite — December 3, 2004 @ 10:03 pm

  25. Wow, evil place to stop, can’t wait for the rest :)

    Comment by Emma — December 4, 2004 @ 11:53 am

  26. Yes! Very evil!

    Comment by Claire — December 4, 2004 @ 3:39 pm

  27. Thank you for part 1. Bring on part 2.

    Comment by Unlucky man — December 5, 2004 @ 12:34 pm

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