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'.

Book review: Shadow Baby

A slow-build read which, by halfway, had me glued to the page. It is in part a story about unplanned pregnancy – choices, motherhood and how a girl grows to be a mother herself – and part social history. The history is the skeleton on which the flesh of the story hangs and inter-connects. Two young women fall pregnant, Leah in 1887 and Hazel in 1956. Both abandon their babies. Shadow Baby by Margaret Forster is the story of Leah and her daughter Evie, Hazel and her daughter Shona. The circumstances are different – Evie is brought up first in a children’s home and then by reluctant relatives; Shona is adopted by a family desperate for a child with a mother whose care is suffocating – but the stories so similar. Both daughters are obsessed with their birth mothers. From generation to generation, mistakes are uncannily mirrored. Attitudes from the 19th century reappear in the 20th. Shadow Baby is a thoughtful and measured exploration of how the nature of being a mother differs from woman to woman, expectations, fears, well-meaning but hurtful family and social pressure. And how, when the daughter grows into a woman who in turn becomes pregnant,
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Categories: Book Love and Family history research.

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.

Book review: The Doll Funeral

The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer is a dark, despairing and at times confusing tale of identity and the creeping links of family and genetics across the generations. It is about the difficult adoptive families, about ‘not fitting in’, and how blood families sometimes don’t work either. Ultimately, family is where you can find it and make it. Ruby’s mother Barbara is a cleaning lady who nicks small things she thinks won’t be missed. Father Mick knocks Ruby around, forcing her to miss school until the bruises fade. Then on her thirteenth birthday, they tell her she is adopted. Ruby’s response is to run into the garden and sing for joy. Of course nothing is as simple as it appears. Ruby, determined to find her birth parents, runs away and makes her way to the creepy home of a strange schoolfriend Tom. I found the thread of Tom, Crispin and Elizabeth rather unrealistic and at times gruesome. It does however act as an alternative take on dysfunctional families, wild children and parental neglect. The budding relationship of Tom and Ruby, two outsiders, is touching. Ruby’s tale is alternated with that of her mother Anna who falls pregnant as a teenager,
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: The Ghost of Lily Painter

Caitlin Davies blends fact and fiction in The Ghost of Lily Painter, an unusual story sparked from the author’s interest in her own house in Holloway, North London. In 2008, Annie Sweet moves into 43 Stanley Road with her husband and daughter. The house is chilly, the dog won’t stop barking, and her husband leaves her. Is there a bad spirit in the house which is bringing bad luck? Annie begins to explore the house’s history and discovers a music hall performer, Lily Painter, lived there briefly at the beginning of the twentieth century. What happened to her? Why does she disappear? This is a well-researched historical story about turn-of-the-century music hall, the dilemma facing unmarried pregnant women, baby farms and modern-day family history research. It’s a fascinating tangle of three viewpoints across a century: Annie Sweet and her actress daughter Molly, Inspector William George who lived at 43 Stanley Road in 1901; and one of his lodgers, Miss Lily Painter. The baby farms narrative is based on the real lives of Amelia Sach and Annie Walters, the first women to be hanged at Holloway Prison in 1902. They were baby farmers, women offering a lying-in service where women could
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Categories: Book Love.

Family history: the paternity question

People have been having affairs – and illegitimate children – since the world began. For me, this means hundreds of story ideas for the ‘Rose Haldane: Identity Detective’ series. For family history researchers, paternity fraud presents a big dilemma: whether to believe what the records say. Adultery is notoriously difficult to trace through the records, with many women giving birth to babies whose father is not her husband. How do you spot a problem? Look out for:- Family rumours. Is it spiteful gossip, or is the rumour confirmed from different sources? Where was the father nine months before the birth? Did the birth take place a suspiciously short time after the wedding? Why is the paternity questioned? Physical likeness, does a child look like its father? Not a reliable measure, as often children are genetic throwbacks and resemble neither of their parents. Is it known that the mother had affairs? Check the divorce records for evidence of adultery. Are the parents living apart, so suggesting a marriage separation. Check the Census. A marriage breakdown is often evident in a person’s will, an estrangement may be mentioned. Or there may be a bequest to someone not in the immediate family. Was the
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Categories: 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.

‘Ignoring Gravity’ and other writings

I’m now re-drafting Connectedness, part two in the ‘Rose Haldane: Identity Detective’ series, with publication scheduled for late 2016. This is the story of Justine Tree who as an art student gives up her baby for adoption. Almost 30 years later, she asks Rose to find her lost daughter. I’m in the middle of fact-checking the manuscript and my next task is to re-visit Malaga, Spain, where Justine was at art college. I need to check details of locations including Plaza de la Merced, where Justine lives… … the Cathedral, where she sells her paintings to tourists… She lives in an apartment in a building like this… She finds Malaga an inspiring place, particularly the influence of the Moors on architecture. She loves the colours, the shapes and derivation of pattern and the texture and use of materials such as brick and tile. But Malaga is also the place where her life takes an unexpected turn… love, poverty, pregnancy. What happens in Malaga influences her life in ways she can never predict. To make sure you don’t miss the publication of Connectedness, sign-up for my newsletter here for advance information. And don’t forget to read Ignoring Gravity first!   ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra
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Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Connectedness', and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Family history: British Newspaper Archive

The days are gone when researching old newspaper articles meant a trip to a library. Nowadays there is a fantastic online resource for anyone trying to trace lost relatives or researching their family tree. The British Newspaper Archive has almost 11.5 million newspaper pages on its archives from the 1700s onwards, across 473 UK newspaper titles. As part of my research for Ignoring Gravity, I read countless newspaper and magazine articles about adoption, the stories of birth mothers, adoptees and adoptive parents. I tested the BNA database. A random search for ‘Sandra Danby‘ produced three results, none of which were about me. Here are two:- May 6, 1950 Hull Daily Mail [above]: Sandra Danby was a principal performer at a concert in Hessle Town Hall, along with Elsie Meek, Sylvia Cowling and Michael Goforth. I’ve made a note of the name Elsie Meek, inspiration for a character name perhaps?June 19, 1950 Hull Daily Mail [above]: Sandra Danby from Hessle came second in the Haltemprice Fancy Dress Prize Winners ‘Most Attractive’ section, she was dressed as a Dutch girl. First prize was won by Patricia Partington, who dressed as Bo Peep. Next, I searched for ‘Rose Haldane’ and had more success with 13
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Categories: Family history research, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity', and On Researching.

Shellyback Books reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

“This book genuinely surprised me. Reading the first couple of pages I almost put it down but I am really glad I didn’t make that mistake because as it drew me in I found it increasingly difficult to stop reading. I love books about secrets and this was no exception. Solving this puzzle was literally like peeling layers off an onion. A chance discovery of an old diary turns Rose’s world upside down causing her to question her identity and initiate her search for her other family,” says Michelle de Haan at book blog Shellyback Books. “Highly recommended debut novel. Whilst promoted as the first in a new series this book is complete in itself and easily stands alone.” To read Michelle’s review in full, click here for her book blog. To read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity, click here. Want to know more about Ignoring Gravity? Click here to watch the book trailer. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: IGNORING GRAVITY #bookreview by @haanmy at Shellyback Books http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1Jj via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

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.

The Baking Bookworm reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

“This book deals with a lot of issues: adoption, family bonds, infertility but I wouldn’t say it was an overly heavy or complex read either.  I could see it being an enjoyable, easy weekend read,” says book reviewer Laurie at The Baking Bookworm [below]. Read Laurie’s review in full by clicking here.   To read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity, click here. Want to know more about Ignoring Gravity? Watch the book trailer. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: IGNORING GRAVITY #bookreview by @bakingbookworm http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1C7 via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Word Gurgle reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

“It took me a little bit to get into the book, but once I did, I could not put it down. I loved that this book brought some often-difficult issues: infertility, adoption, family relationship, and identity to light. An overall delightful read,” says book reviewer Hope Sloper at Word Gurgle. Read Hope’s review in full by clicking here. To read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity, click here. Want to know more about Ignoring Gravity? Watch the book trailer. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: IGNORING GRAVITY #bookreview by @WordGurgle http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1Bh via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Family history: using maps

Understanding your lost relatives is a little easier when you can place them geographically. Today there are huge online resources of historical maps which make this easier. If you are searching for someone today and you have an address, the best place to start is the simplest: Google Maps. Just type in a place name and map focuses on the area you want, making it easy to find addresses from birth certificates, for example. When you are dealing with an area of the country with which you are unfamiliar, using GoogleMaps allows you to familiarise yourself with the area and perhaps connect up a couple of clues which previously did not make sense. For example, birth certificates or baptism records with addresses which do not tally with other clues you have. Looking at the area on a map can often clarify the options. Britain From Above allows you to look down on early to mid-20th century homes, from the skies. For example, I grew up on the North Yorkshire coast near Filey, below are two photographs from the area. Top is a 1925 photograph showing Carr Naze and Filey Brigg; the pic below shows Crescent Hill and Foreshore Road in Filey in 1932.
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Categories: Book Love, Family history research, and On Researching.

Long Lost Family: Denise’s story

This adoption story from the 1960s belongs to a teenager whose father died when she was 15. Missing her father and growing apart from her mother who was distracted by a new husband, she sought love and attention elsewhere. She went clubbing, and at 16 was pregnant. This is Denise Temple‘s story from the Long Lost Family television programme. The family agreed the child would be given up for adoption. But Denise remembers looking at her new born baby, Deborah: “I thought I’d die for this child, I’d die for her… I just cried and cried and cried. I said ‘I’m not giving her up’.” But her stepfather would not have her in the house. It was finally agreed that Denise and her baby could go home on the understanding that she could expect no help from her mother or stepfather. In The Sixties there was little state support for single mothers. Denise went home, and the baby slept in a drawer. She had half a dozen terry cloth nappies. “I was so alone.” She struggled on for three months, before finally giving her baby up for adoption. “It was no life for her, or me.” Denise never forgot Deborah.
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Categories: Book Love, Family history research, and On Researching.

Interview with ‘The Starving Artist’

Authors Devon Trevarrow Flaherty [bottom] and Sandra Danby both appear to be obsessed by trees. In Devon’s interview at The Starving Artist, Sandra explains the role of trees in her debut novel Ignoring Gravity. The cover, the imagery, the researching your family tree thing. “The family tree, the networking of roots and branches, stretching wide, unseen beneath the earth and hidden by leaves, is an ideal image for the twists and turns of Rose Haldane’s heritage,” she explains. Read Devon’s interview at The Starving Artist in full by clicking here. Read here what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity. Want to know more about Ignoring Gravity? Watch the book trailer. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Trees, writing & other things #interview about #writing with @devtflaherty http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1xf via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity', and On Writing.

Susan Finlay interviews author Sandra Danby

In her interview about Ignoring Gravity, author and book blogger Susan Finlay asks Sandra Danby: “Do you have a favourite review of your book?” “I’ve had some fabulous reviews,” says Sandra. “It’s a challenging thing, you know, to send your debut novel out to strangers to read, so I feel very fortunate that Ignoring Gravity has been received so well. I think the review that meant the most was by a reader with personal experience of adoption: “Sandra Danby deals with the emotions surrounding grief, adoption and infertility with a deep understanding of the emotions involved. One of my close family members was adopted and so I could understand Rose’s identity crisis when she discovers she isn’t whom she thought she was. There is a twist at the end which unexpectedly gave me the shivers as I contemplated history repeating itself.” To read the interview in full at ‘Susan Finlay Writes’ [above], click here. To read more about how Sandra Danby researched adoption for Ignoring Gravity, click here.   ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Authors & reviews #interview about #writing at #SusanFinlayWrites http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1Ct via
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Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity', and On Researching.