I've just taken about a years holiday from actively trying to get the whole of my adoption file and records of how I came to spend time in care, this has been a 17 year fight so far, I'm about to have another go at getting some more.
I feel a bit like Oliver Twist, asking for more all the time I have the luxury of living in country where we adoptees have had the RIGHT to have a copy of our original birth certificate since 1976 (original in every respect apart from having "Adopted" typed or written in the margin).
Scottish adoptees have always had that right since the first Adoption Act there in 1930, they can now have their birth records unsealed when they are 16, the rest of the UK it's 18. If you were adopted before 12 November 1975 in England & Wales they try to make you have some dodgy "counselling" with a social worker who probably doesn't know much about what it's like to be adopted or to have relinquished a child for adoption.
I was one of the lucky ones who had access to the Adoption Order that has my original name on it, so I could have gone to the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths in the area I was born and got a copy any time I pleased, so I did.
It's always been up to the adoptive parents here whether they give their adoptee the information that is on the adoption order http://ao.postadoption.info
I broke in to the family document box and got mine when I was about 8 or 9. But unamended birth certificates on their own are not enough are they?
I always wanted know the why and the wherefore of how I came to be adopted, why I'd spent a year in a childrens' home where my strongest memories from the age 20 months are the smell of piss, being put in one of those old green enamel baby baths full of really cold water as part of potty training and being literally launched through the air back in to my cot by woman with a tartan dress when I climbed out and strayed.Things I still remember more than 50 years later I want to know about the foster parents my mother placed me with and why I wasn't allowed to stay with them when they asked to adopt, instead of being put in a Dr Barnardo's Home.
I want to know about the other kids they had, the ones they referred to as theirs, who ended up in a childrens' home? I wasn't the first of my mother's kids to be adopted or put in care, I was the seventh, yet she went on to manage to successfully raise a family after that, I want to know why she and her children were treated in the way they were?
I want to know what happened to all of her other children, my brothers and sisters? I want to know about my father and his family, that's the bit I'm still working on now, I managed get to most of the rest it by spending a lot of money with lawyers and fighting like feck for the last 17 year to get it .
You may think: oh they wouldn't have all that stuff still on record, but heck, they did, most of it. And I'll keep on fighting. One thing that I think has also helped is shaming Barnardos the agency involved, on the internet, they did a sudden U-turn when my pages started getting up there with theirs http://www.barnardos.org.uk/familyconnections.htm and that site is still more spin than substance, just like Barnardos the organisation still is.
Heck 17 years, that's more than third of my life where a significant part of my time has been taken up with trying to find out the things that I should have known all along, who else than those of us who fell in to the hands of the caring childrens' charities and adoption agencies of the past has to endure that? How much have things improved, here in the UK, or elsewhere? Not enough, I feel, from what I read in the press Anyway, my question remains, what do we have right to know and what don't we?
Robin Harritt (who used to be Gareth Dafydd Curle) *
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