The Meal

30th July 2010

Finally the day of the meal arrived and we were busy so it went by quickly. We arrived at the restaurant early. Anthony and his girlfriend turned up around the time we agreed to meet. His adoptive parents turned up shortly afterwards. I already knew how tall his adoptive father was but his adoptive mother was taller than I imagined.

Under the circumstances the evening was relaxed. However we were annoyed with Anthony. His paternal adoptive father had died that day but he didn’t warn us. We were embarrassed as we would have cancelled and rearranged another date for the meal. His adoptive parents didn’t want to cancel as they had been looking forward to the meal so had asked Anthony not to say anything. Once we got passed that moment of feeling uncomfortable the evening did improve.

I know Anthony isn’t the most honest of people. Nonetheless I was pleasantly surprised they both have a sense of humour. However like him I don’t think they realize how funny they really are.

Rick and I were more relaxed than Anthony’s adoptive parents. We had been through so much since August 2004. By this time Anthony had also lived with us for about two and a half years. His adoptive parents had had a year to get used to us being in reunion. Contact had been minimal between the four of us and Anthony hadn’t had much contact with them either.

His adoptive father took time to speak to me during the meal. He was very courteous and considerate of my feelings. When he was uncomfortable with any of my answers to his questions he quickly changed the subject. At one point he asked if I thought about Anthony on his birthday. I looked him straight in the eye and told him I had thought of Anthony every day not just his birthday. The pained look I got back told me that it was difficult for him to deal with how I feel about Anthony’s adoption. I have noticed that whenever I say anything that either adoptive parent doesn’t really want to hear they change the subject. It would be easy to let them continue to belief the myth as to why he was adopted. I can’t do that as it would be betraying myself and the real truth. They would have continued to believe the lie I didn’t want to raise him if we hadn’t had contact. I don’t blame them but on the other hand they needed to know the truth otherwise it could have caused more problems. There have been too many lies in the past that had to be put right.

I did what was expected of me and got on with my life. It was also expected of me to forget about him which I couldn’t do so kept it inside buried. This was my way of coping as it was the easiest way for me at that time. With hindsight that was wrong and I should have had support to raise my son. The next best option as it didn’t happen was for me to get counselling. What my parents and the adoption agency hadn’t bargained on was Anthony wanting to find me.

At the time he was adopted it was the tail end of young single mothers being coerced into surrendering. It still happens but in the UK it’s not happening at the extent it was up until the 1980′s. By the mid 1970′s single mothers were beginning to get more support to raise their child. However mothers such as myself from middle class backgrounds were still being encouraged to surrender.

Attitudes of people in general who haven’t been affected by adoption haven’t changed though over the years. It is assumed that mothers who surrender babies don’t want their babies and give them away. Mothers are more likely to surrender these days through their own choice but coercion still happens. The other misconception is that all children who are in care and adopted because of abuse.

Having spoken to Anthony’s adoptive mother a few times before the meal it had hit home about myths. She and her husband believed what they were told but they had no reason not to. They had believed for almost twenty seven years that I had wanted him adopted and hadn’t been ready to parent. At times it felt like we were covering the same old ground and that I had to keep reinforcing the truth.

The first few times we spoke to her she got very upset about Anthony’s behaviour. She blamed herself completely for his bad behaviour over the years. Both of them obviously love him very much and would do anything for him. If anything they hadn’t been firm enough with Anthony over the years and had spoilt him. It did seem like Rick and I were constantly reassuring her that she had been a good mother. At times I felt very irritated with both her and her husband. They had adopted and had a child of their own. Rick and I hadn’t plus I had been coerced into surrendering my only child. It felt like we were always putting their feelings before ours. It doesn’t bother me now but at times it would have been nice if they had been a bit more thoughtful about our feelings.

When we first went into the restaurant Rick and Anthony’s adoptive dad went for drinks. While we were chatting Anthony mentioned an incident from when he was young and in reference to his brother. His adoptive mother replied she only remembered the good times. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. She had previously mentioned both to myself and Rick several times of the problems they had had with Anthony. It was as if she was suddenly only remembering what she wanted. Anthony went on to mention two conversations he had with her about our cat Tasha. On both occasions he had to make it quite clear he was talking about a real cat not a virtual reality one. His adoptive mother had no memory of these conversations so I backed him up. She seemed surprised that I knew about the conversations so I just said he had chosen to stay in the same room as us when he was on the phone. His adoptive mum is nice but she was coming across as very flaky that night. At this point I thought it was going to be a long night if she was going to carry on like this. The conversations did improve though.

Although the evening went better than expected it was a relief to get going. All evening we had wondered if they would mention any of the articles. The Bella article had also been published before the meal. Nothing was said though nor were the interviews we had done mentioned.

After the meal Rick didn’t have any more contact with Anthony. He was ignoring Rick’s emails, they rarely spoke on the phone and Anthony was rarely signed into msn messenger. 

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About Philippa

I am married to Rick and we live in a small town in County Durham. We have two dogs, a cat and two budgies. I am also an adoption survivor. In 1981 my son was born and I was then forced to surrender him. It took 23 years and reunion for my to find out that my son's adoption was legally known as a forced adoption and illegal but social workers got away with it because mothers didn't know their rights.
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