If you looked at me there are many things that you might not think. One might be, “hey that girl plays cricket for county” because I don’t. You might not think “hey that girl is under average weight” even though I am. You also might not think “hey that girl is adopted”, but even I didn’t think that for a while.
Among my family’s smiling faces, the glittering paper and Wacky uncool birthday cards it was there. Just waiting, the start of my troubled journey, the brown envelope, formal but dog eared at the corners and printed in red with the word confidential. I did not instinctively reach out for it as I had my other gifts, it wasn’t ordinary but strange.
“It’s for you dear, but it may be a shock.” Mum whispered softly as my hand hovered unwillingly over the envelope. This was the only obvious factor about the proceedings, it had my name on the front, but what was waiting inside was out of even my vivid imagination. The envelope was rough and heavy, inside there were many papers, documents, a legal looking one read:
Child’s Name: Ellie Jane Norle
Birth Mother: Marie Laurel Norle
Adopted parents: A and M Laten
Handover Date: 5/7/84
Child’s name Ellie Jane Laten
The Childs details were mine, the address my old one, the ‘adopted parents’ my mum and dad, and the other, my birth mother. How could I be adopted? My world went black!
Days, weeks, months passed, to no avail. Darn right it had been a shock, they were my parents but they weren’t, they had lied how could I trust them? I wanted to find her, my mother, Marie, but how?
She was a mystery to me my mum; I had not seen her for 18 years, since the third day of my existence. She had given me up, but why? Why had they not told me? I had so many questions but no obvious path to their answers.
Try to help to gain forgiveness, was my parents’ (if you could call them that) approach. There was nothing really to forgive though, despite them lying to me I still loved them as any child does, after all I wasn’t trying to replace them just give the woman who had given me up all those years ago a small amount of closure and relief after all she had suffered because of me. And they were helping; my parents had hired an adoption intermediary, who can apparently find a person in under a week but for a while there was nothing. That was until that day, the 19/9/2002, when I was sat in my cramped bedroom at a messy desk working on impossible coursework for the next day, unable to concentrate due to an extremely preoccupied mind. That was when the call came. It was Nigel my parents’ adoption intermediary, he had good news, my mum was found.
Her new name was Marie Laurel Wash, and she lived in Bexley, a small town just south east of London, my home town. She had been married to Ed Wash for nearly 20 years and had 2 children with him, though he had not been her first husband. After my father abandoned her she had married John Michael who had sadly died in a car crash along with my unborn half brother whilst on their way to see his dying father. Not all of this information was told to me by Nigel in the first call; he gave out contact details with the offer of any necessary support if it was needed; saying it would be best to sort everything out between the two of us.
So we did, it was all taken slowly to start with, I was anxious to meet her but was confused, would she like me, would her other family accept me, what would my parents think? We exchanged Emails and photos to get an idea of each other’s life, mine was boring to tell, but hers was interesting and strange but lovely in a way I had never experienced before. We were getting along like a house on fire so arranged to meet; at a small Costa coffee in the very middle of Oxford Street.
If anyone watched our situation in a film it wouldn’t seem real, one of those interesting but unfeasible plot lines that keep the reader hooked, one where you can feel the tension in the air and hear the heart beat of the wonderful protagonist as she takes the steps towards uncertainty. It certainly felt that way, walking into a cafe holding chocolates about to relate your entire life’s story to your mother who you have not seen for the whole 18 years of your life. A story that can never truly seem real until you are the one in the spotlight.
But it was real; I walked into the cafe and saw her. She sat alone at a two seat table with a large cup of coffee that smelt just a little too sweet and could be tasted through the room. Her slightly greying mousy brown hair was down to the tip of her back covering a baggy faded fleece. The Emails and phone calls were irrelevant, the 18 years didn’t matter, she was there waiting for me.