Archives for Adoption

Connectedness: coming soon

I’m so excited that Connectedness my second novel, book two in the ‘Identity Detective’ series, will be published on May 10, 2018. This tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain. So what’s it all about? TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD, ARTIST JUSTINE TREE HAS IT ALL… BUT SHE ALSO HAS A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY EVERYTHING Justine’s art sells around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face. Is Justine strong enough to admit the secrets and lies of her past? To speak aloud the deeds she has hidden for 27 years, the real inspiration for her work that sells for millions of pounds. Could the truth trash her artistic reputation? Does Justine care more about her daughter, or her
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Categories: Adoption and My Novel: 'Connectedness'.

It is National Adoption Week & ‘Ignoring Gravity’ is free today

This week in the UK it is National Adoption Week, October 16-22. To mark the occasion, today and tomorrow you can download Ignoring Gravity as a free book. Kindle only, at Amazon. Click the link below.  Read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Download now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: ‘Ignoring Gravity’ #NationalAdoptionWeek #freebooks http://wp.me/p5gEM4-2Q9 via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Adoption, Book Love, and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Family history: how adoption became a legal process

Only in 1926 did adoption of children in the UK become a legal process, it was part of a process to remove illegitimate children from their ‘unfit’ mothers and place them with a respectable married couple. Until the 1926 Adoption of Children Act, adoptions were often arranged privately or via the mother-and-baby home where the birth took place. In the 19th century there were hundreds of mother-and-baby homes where an unmarried pregnant woman would be housed and her pregnancy and birth overseen. She would remain with her baby during the early weeks while an adoption was arranged. Many women attended these homes secretly to avoid the stigma of bearing an illegitimate child. As an alternative to adoption, some single mothers left their child in the care of baby farmers who would care for the child for a fee, supposedly enabling the mother to return to work. However some baby farmers were found guilty of abuse and neglect. Prior to the 1926 Adoption of Children Act, ten bills had been introduced to Parliament by 1922 in an effort to regulate adoption. Finally the act became law on January 1, 1927. It provided assurance for the adoptive parents that the birth parents
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Categories: Adoption and Family history research.

Family history: researching children’s homes

Lost children weren’t always adopted, as happens to Rose Haldane in Ignoring Gravity. If she had been born a century earlier, she may have been taken to one of many children’s homes in London. In 1739 London’s Foundling Hospital opened, a basket placed at its door to allow infants to be left anonymously. In the late 19th century poverty in London’s East End was notorious and this is where, in 1866, Thomas Barnardo established his first boys’ home. Lampson House Home for Girls [below] opened in London in 1894. If you are tracing a relative who was in a children’s home, the records may be held in a variety of places. Most children’s homes were privately run so the survival of documentation is inconsistent, records identifying individuals are widely held closed for 100 years. A useful website is The Children’s Homes which lists the location of existing records for many former homes. Other records which give an insight into lifestyle conditions [below] in children’s homes – such as reports of inspections, dietary diaries – can be found at the National Archives. Records for workhouses can be found in the appropriate county/metropolitan record office where you may also find records for workhouses
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Categories: Adoption and On Researching.

Adoption reunion: Doing it for love

The fifth season of British television adoption reunion series Long Lost Family included this heartbreaker: a woman who gave up her first-born daughter twice, in order for her to have a better life. Scotland, 1960: Christine Gillard was 16, her father dead, her mother working away, she lived with her 80-year old grandmother in a tenement so small you could walk from one side to the other in four paces. Christine became pregnant. For two years, the two women tried to raise active toddler Marguerite, in this one cramped room. “It was going wrong and I couldn’t put it right,” Christine tells Long Lost Family. “I had a big decision to make, I didn’t want her to go into a home, abandoned, with no hope for the future.” The solution was for Social Services to place Marguerite with a long-term foster family. “I had asked for help and I got it, I thought ‘they’ve got my baby’.” Christine’s life went on, she married and had four more children. But it was not a good marriage. Six years after she had last seen Marguerite, Social Services contacted Christine to say her foster mother had died, and that Christine could have Marguerite back.
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Categories: Adoption, Family history research, and On Researching.

Book review: I Belong to No One

This is a brave book, a memoir written by Gwen Wilson knowing that she may be criticised, knowing that readers may disapprove, but having the courage to write it anyway. To say ‘This is me, this is what I did when I was a teenager’. Gwen Wilson had a tough start in life. Her father was not in her life, in fact in later years she discovers that her father was a completely different man from the one she thought he was. Instead she grows up with her mother and half-brother Steve. Her mother would today be diagnosed as bi-polar, Steve is thrust into the role of authority figure. The young Gwen grows up relying on stand-in families, those of trusting neighbours or the parents of her schoolfriends. Looking for love, for approval, it is little wonder that she gets ’into trouble’. Gwen Wilson celebrated her 60th birthday just before this memoir was published. She has travelled a long way and become a different person since the girl who struggled to be a mother and wife when she was still a young girl. There should have been more support for her, but 1970s Australia was in many ways an unforgiving
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Categories: Adoption, Book Love, and Family history research.

Book review: Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs

This is the true story of one woman’s search for her birth family which crosses continents from South Africa and Rhodesia, to Australia, the UK, and Holland. Jane Eales discovered she was adopted when she was 19. Her adoptive parents made her swear never to tell anyone else about her adoption and never to search for her birth parents. She lived with the uncertainty of not knowing for 40 years until, when both her adoptive parents were dead, she started to search. The journey crosses continents as she uncovers a family’s pre-World War Two flight as Hitler threatens, the politics of Southern Africa, and spying during WW2. The ‘Spotted Dogs’ in the title is a reference to Dalmatian dogs; the author’s birth mother, Phyllis, was a renowned UK dog breeder. For Jane Eales, the promise she made to her adoptive parents was a difficult one to break. They were the only parents she had known, they cared for her, she loved them though she found it difficult to accept and understand their need for secrecy when it made her own life so ill-defined. What prompted her to search? With a learning-disabled son, she was advised to check her own genetic
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Categories: Adoption, Book Love, Family history research, and On Researching.

Author Interview: Gwen Wilson

I Belong to No One is the memoir of Gwen Wilson. The story of her life, from family violence, teenage pregnancy and forced adoption, how she dealt with all of that and became the woman she is today. The book is published on June 30, 2015. I hesitate to use the word ‘gritty’; although Gwen’s story is harsh and at times difficult to read about, at the same time her flowing writing style makes the pages turn. How many years did it take you to write your book, and what was the trigger that made you start? The initial trigger was my 50th birthday party, way back in 2005. Part way through my speech, it dawned on me that each of the guests represented a distinct part of my life. Family, friends, and colleagues – it was like a map of my life’s journey. The fact that I was even there – well-dressed, financially secure, a successful career woman, with a supportive husband at my side – was a source of wonder. My life could so easily have gone a different way. As I spoke, I felt the spiritual presence of those people – particularly the women -who had supported
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Categories: Adoption, Book Love, and Family history research.

Reading for research… Relative Strangers

The sub-title of this book is ‘A history of adoption and a tale of triplets’ and it is a fascinating read if you are at all interested in family history and adoption. Yes, there is some history, but Hunter Davies keeps you turning the pages by telling in parallel the story of three babies, triplets, separated at their birth in 1932. May 18, 1932. Kate Hodder gives birth to triplets – rare in those pre-IVF days – and dies the next day. Her husband, jobbing gardener Wills, is left with the three babies plus six older children. He cannot cope. Two go to live with grandparents, and four go to Barnardo’s. The triplets are adopted separately, with seemingly no effort made to keep them together. They live their lives, until finally reunited in 2001. The process of their lives, the changes to adoption law, and the roles of real people such as Thomas Barnardo and Pam Hodgkins, founder of adoption counselling service NORCAP, is told seamlessly by Davies. Florence was the first to be adopted. Aged eight months, she went to live in Devon. Adopted by Emily Davy, a single mother who ran a guest house, Florence’s name was changed
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Categories: Adoption, Book Love, and On Researching.

The reality of adoption

There are two faces to adoption: public and private. Some relatives remain secret, hidden forever, the separated players remaining apart and unknown. Some people struggle with the decision to search, when they do they may be elated or dejected. The story of the birth mother and father is often not heard, somehow their voice can be forgotten in the hubbub of reunion. Some lucky people do have a happy ending. The path is always painful.Adoption can be the making of some people, it can save lives, give a new chance, solve problems and bring happiness to abandoned children and childless couples, a new start to the birth parents who for their own reasons made that agonizing decision. British television is full of programmes about adoption reunion and family history. It started with the BBC trailblazer Who Do You Think You Are?, now a global phenomenon and still going strong. ITV got in on the act with Long Lost Family and now co-presenter Nicky Campbell is hosting a new series concentrating on the behind-the-scenes process of adoption today, Wanted: A Family of My Own. Nicky Campbell’s own memoir, Blue-Eyed Son, was an important part of my reading. “Finding someone, when the
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Categories: Adoption, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity', and On Researching.

Reading for research: A Good Likeness

A Good Likeness is a well-written account of an adoptee’s journey, not in the least bit self-obsessed or mawkish. Paul Arnott knows he was adopted but doesn’t stop to think about what it means until in his thirties with his own children. He writes to his adoption society and gets a letter back with information about his birth parents. “The section of my mind concerned with the concept of identity, which had been lying under a sheet in the garage since I was born, suddenly roared into life.” He shares the emotional ups and downs of his search, which finally takes him to a second family in Ireland. “Instead of being Paul Arnott, 11/11/61, I was now Rory Brennan, 11/11/61.” It was this sentence that really grabbed my core. He was Rory, not Paul. “It must be inconceivable to those raised by their blood parents, surrounded by grandparents, sisters and brothers, that a man in his thirties had never given any serious credit to the potency of family resemblance.” I read this book as research for Ignoring Gravity, the story of journalist Rose Haldane who finds out she was adopted as a baby. ‘A Good Likeness’ by Paul Arnott [UK: Abacus]
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Categories: Adoption and On Researching.

Reading for research: Blue-Eyed Son

The story of Nicky Campbell’s search for his birth parents had me hooked from the beginning. Blue-Eyed Son is a personal story but everyone will be able to identify with his themes of family love, the need for belonging and a clear sense of identity. Nicky Campbell is a broadcaster and knows how to tell a story well. He charts the ups and downs of his search for his birth mother and father, the agonies of deciding to search, the worries about whether he was betraying his adoptive family. He shares the pain, the anticipation of making that first contact: “She [his wife Linda] stood in the hall and dialled the number. I was sitting on the stairs, rigid with fear, my head buried in my hands, my body folding into a foetal position. I really didn’t think I could go through with it. I was petrified and exhausted. What the hell would I say? What the hell do you say? This woman gave birth to me. I needed an epidural. “I had held this fantasy in my head for years. I had a mental picture of a beautiful but driven career woman – a free spirit who found herself in
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Categories: Adoption and On Researching.