‘We had our babies taken from us we didn’t give them away’

https://news.stv.tv/scotland/year-after-nicola-sturgeons-forced-adoption-apology-time-is-running-out-for-mothers-to-find-children

‘We had our babies taken from us we didn’t give them away’

Jeannot Farmer urges Scottish Government to get answers for victims affected by historic forced adoption ‘before it is too late.’  Women who were forced to give their babies up for adoption have made an urgent plea for help finding out what happened to their children.  Campaigners said the words in an apology made by the Scottish Government last year “lose their worth every day” without measures to help victims of the “ongoing injustice”.  It comes a year after former first minister Nicola Sturgeon delivered an official apology in the Scottish Parliament to those who have been affected by historic forced adoption policies.  The recognition was the first formal apology in the UK to tens of thousands of unmarried mothers “shamed” and “coerced” into having their babies adopted.  Group Movement for an Adoption Apology sent a letter and knitted baby bootees to over 60 MSPs urging them to back the campaign.  Jeannot Farmer warns time is running out for families.  She told STV News: “We chose to put out a statement expressing concern that people are still passing away not knowing what happened to their children.  The pain associated with that is severe.  I know what it was like to find my son after 31 years and how every birthday was worse than the last one not knowing where he was.  I can’t imagine that being doubled. We have friends in that situation.  Living with the stigma all of those years is very difficult. But the stigma is nothing compared to the loss of your child.”

Jeannot was one of thousands of women forced to give up her baby for adoption.  At the age of 22, she gave birth to a boy while she was still a fourth year university student.  Despite having explored options with social services, she did not want to give up her son.  However, she was told while she was in hospital that her baby would be put up for adoption.  “Sometimes I go back to the apology to remember what was said. Words like ‘historic injustice’ are meaningful and important. What happened was cruel,” she said.

“That day, the stigma and disgrace of giving my baby up for adoption was removed from me. Now I don’t have anyone thinking I have submitted my child for adoption voluntarily. That was done to me.  My child was not taken, not given.”

It is estimated around 60,000 women in Scotland were forced to give up their babies throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.  Hundreds of thousands of children were given up for adoption between 1949 and 1976 across the UK, at a time when unmarried mothers were often rejected by their families and ostracised by society.  Adoptions were generally handled through agencies run by the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and the Salvation Army.  What you’ll find is most mothers it happened to don’t really know what happened to them,” Jeannot said.

“We had this idea mothers giving babies up for adoption analysed the risks and benefits of keeping or giving them up, then came up with a rational decision. That happened to no one.  A far more common story is the mothers gave birth, were sent to another room to hold the baby for a minute, then that baby was gone and never seen again.”

The group Movement for an Adoption Apology made a number of recommendations, such as councils delivering trauma-informed counselling services; easier birth record access; reunion services and formal apologies from institutions which administered services that resulted in coerced or forced adoption.  But campaigners insist measures discussed in the Parliament on that day have “failed to emerge”.  While work is currently underway to deliver funding for peer-support services, Jeannot said more work must be done to allow victims to access records.  The system is already in place in states across Australia, where around 250,000 are estimated to have been affected by the practice.  Jeannot said thousands risk being left with unanswered questions about their identity without the government taking action.  “It’s incredibly urgent,” Jeannot said. “People are dying.  People should be allowed to know the name of the person they have lost and find out if they might still be alive.  We are losing the opportunity to pass on important information to our families and pass on a legacy for their relatives.  Those questions, the hurt and the grief does not end with the passing of the father and the mother. Those ripples extend beyond.  It’s also about passing on medical information; if a mother, sister or aunt has breast cancer, there is no way to tell a daughter who was adopted to get tested for the gene.  It’s about what the children inherit too; ‘why do I have that shape of my nose?’ ‘Why am I good at art?’ People want to know these things.”

Jeannot said that it is important to remember mothers and adoptees reserve the right to refuse contact.  She added: “People have a right to privacy, but people also have a right to information. It’s about a balance in-between those two things.  But if our children had been taken by a random stranger, no one would question our right to know who they are.  That’s what happened to our children who were taken. We didn’t give them away.”

Marking the anniversary Natalie Don, Minister for Children, Young People and Keeping the Promise said:  “I acknowledge the immense pain and suffering that adoptees, mothers and families have endured as a result of these unjust practices. Addressing the harms caused remains a priority for this Government.  We are establishing a series of lived experience sessions on historic forced adoption, to be facilitated by the Scottish Government’s Principal Psychological Adviser.  These sessions will explore collaborative solutions and will discuss what form of support is needed to address the emotional and psychological impact of historic forced adoption for adoptees, mothers and families.  We are also exploring what more we can do to ensure people affected by historic forced adoption are able to easily access the right information and support when they need it.  This includes working with both the National Records of Scotland and Scottish Court and Tribunals Service in order to assist people with the practical aspects of accessing records, as well as signposting to further support.  We continue to fund the charity, Health in Mind, to provide specialist support through peer support groups. Monthly peer support sessions are now being held for mothers and an adoptees group will begin shortly.”

‘I regret adopting my daughter I feel like I’m babysitting a stranger’s kid’

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/us-news/i-regret-adopting-daughter-feel-31947707

‘I regret adopting my daughter I feel like I’m babysitting a stranger’s kid’

A mum has sparked outrage after admitting she regrets adopting her daughter as she has never loved her as much as her biological children and still sees her as ‘someone else’s child’

By Paige Freshwater Content Editor

13:38, 23 Jan 2024Updated15:05, 23 Jan 2024

A mum has caused a stir by confessing she regrets adopting her daughter, admitting she’s never loved her as much as her biological children. She shared her story on Reddit, explaining that after having her son through IVF, she chose to adopt for her second child.  However, she confessed she’s never been able to bond with her adopted daughter and over time, even began to resent her. The woman wrote: “So years ago before the birth of my first son, I was told it would be hard for me and my husband to conceive. We went through IVF and eventually I gave birth to my son.  A few years later we wanted another child but didn’t want to have to go through the time and expense we did the last time with our son. So we decided to adopt. We adopted this beautiful baby girl whose parents were too young to raise her themselves. I loved her so much and treated her no different but I’ve never had the feeling she’s my own. I often feel like I’m babysitting someone else’s child. I feel terrible but I can’t help it.  I’ve tried forcing myself to feel it but I just don’t. She’s 15 now and I’ve never felt a connection with her.”

But four years ago, the woman discovered she’d fallen pregnant naturally – and was expecting another girl. This only strained her relationship with her adopted daughter further, as she started to feel more excluded from the family.  “We were so surprised since it just happened naturally and we found out it was going to be a girl. During the pregnancy, my hormones were all over the place and I started hating my adopted daughter because I felt if I had just waited then I wouldn’t have to have had her. When my daughter was born everything just felt right. I felt a proper connection like with my son and I bonded straight away.”

In search of sympathy, she confessed: “I sound horrible but adopting her was a massive mistake. I wish I could go back in time. I love her to pieces but unfortunately not as much as my biological children. I hate myself for it since I promised her parents I’d love her no different and I feel like I’ve let everyone down.”

To this, one Reddit user replied: “Therapy for you. Under no circumstances tell your daughter that you don’t love her as much as your bio kids, though that’s something that’s not hard to miss. Reach out to her birth family, if they’re decent people and you haven’t maintained contact, and see if they’d be interested in spending more time with her. This girl deserves to be enthusiastically cared for and loved by the people in her life. What about your husband? Does he feel the same way?”

Another person commented: “Since you already had a biological child you shouldn’t have adopted. I have heard lots of adoptees say they have always felt like they were competing with the biological child of the adoptive parent. I will say at least you have the courage to be honest, which is rare among adoptive parents. Does the child have any interaction with her birth family? Perhaps if she had a good relationship she could go back to them.”

A third person chimed in: “I really hope your adoptive daughter doesn’t know how you feel. Have you looked into professional help for yourself to dissect what’s going on and why you haven’t allowed yourself to bond? There are so many techniques out there that could have been used to create that bond. I know because I used some of them when I struggled to bond with my adoptive daughter. They worked. I feel so upset on behalf of your 15-year-old. I hope she never finds out and that you’ve said this because you want things to change.  You can work to repair and create that bond rather than dwelling on the past and your own anger and regret. I hope you haven’t damaged her through any perceptible emotional distance on your part. How dreadfully sad that you still feel you are babysitting someone else’s child after all these years. Please stop dwelling on what might have been and step up to being the best parent you can be to her by seeking help if need be.”

New rights for UK donor babies as they turn 18

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2023-10-rights-uk-donor-babies.html

OCTOBER 3, 2023

New rights for UK donor babies as they turn 18
by Helen ROWE

Around 30 young adults conceived via sperm or egg donation in the UK will soon be able to discover the identity of their biological parent.  The new rights come as rising numbers of children are being conceived using the technology, posing a range of challenges for the children, their families and donors.  The UK law removed the anonymity of egg and sperm donors in 2005 and gave children the right to receive basic information about them when they reached 18.  With the first children covered by the legislation turning 18 this month, they will finally be able to request details such as the donor’s full name, date of birth and last known address.  Advances in fertility treatment methods and changing social attitudes have seen an increasing number of donor-conceived children being born not just to people facing fertility challenges but also same-sex couples and women in their late forties and even fifties.  Initially the numbers of children who will have the right to know will be small, with just 30 people becoming eligible between now and December this year.   Data from the UK’s Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) shows that will rise to more than 700 people by the end of 2024, increasing to 11,400 by 2030.  According to the latest available figures from the regulator of fertility treatment and research using human embryos, 4,100 UK births around one in 170 were the result of donor conception in 2019.

Few months off

The cut-off point for the legislation has left some donor-conceived people disappointed that the identity of their donors will remain a mystery.  “I’m happy for the people who want to find out but I’m also a little annoyed that I was a couple of months off, so I won’t have the chance,” 19-year-old student Jamie Ruddock, from Brighton on England’s south coast, told AFP.

Ruddock said he had known for as long as he could remember that he had been donor-conceived and while he was not looking for another father figure he was still curious.  His older brother along with their father had begun looking for the donor via a DNA ancestry testing service but had not had any success.  “My brother definitely has a bigger sense of curiosity than I do but if my brother finds him I would like to have a conversation with him,” he said.

People in the UK conceived by egg or sperm donation will now be able to trace their biological parents.  Nina Barnsley, director of the UK’s Donor Conception Network, said many of those eligible to ask for the information might not even be aware of how they were conceived.  When new techniques such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization (IVF) were first introduced some four decades ago, infertility was something of a taboo subject and parents often did not tell children how they were conceived.  But for many years now, psychologists have advised families to be open with the information as early as possible.  Others might not have realized the significance of the legislation or have other priorities.

‘Incredible gift’

“Certainly in terms of our donor-conceived young people, many have got far more important things going on in their lives with exams and girlfriends and boyfriends, travel and work and other challenges,” said Barnsley.

“Being donor-conceived may well just be low on the list of interests.”

Having the right to access the information, however, could still be important to them in the longer term, even if it also brought potential challenges.  Some parents would inevitably be “anxious about making the donor into a real person in their lives and how their children would feel,” she said.

At the same time many were also “curious about these donors and wanted to thank them to acknowledge their contribution towards helping them make their families,” she added.

Donors are being urged to get in contact with the clinic where they donated and make sure their details are up to date.  “This is a very important time for young adults who were conceived by the use of donor sperm or eggs. Many will hope to find out more about their donors as they reach 18,” said Professor Jackson Kirkman-Brown, chair of the Association for Reproductive and Clinical Scientists (ARCS).

He said it was important that donors too reach out for support and guidance to help them navigate any approaches.  “Being a donor is an incredible gift and alongside the sector ARCS are keen to recognize and support those who enable people to have the families they desire,” he added.

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‘Real taboo’: include birth trauma in UK women’s health strategy, MP urges

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2024/jan/09/real-taboo-include-birth-trauma-in-uk-womens-health-strategy-mp-urges

‘Real taboo’: include birth trauma in UK women’s health strategy, MP urges

Theo Clarke shares own experience and says large number of people contacted inquiry into birth trauma after call for evidence

Birth trauma remains a “real taboo” and should be part of the UK government’s women’s health strategy, an MP leading an inquiry into the subject has said.

On Tuesday, the all-party parliamentary group on birth trauma launched an inquiry, led by the Conservative MP, Theo Clarke, and Labour’s Rosie Duffield, looking into the causes behind traumatic births and to develop policy recommendations to reduce the occurrence of birth-related trauma. The inquiry is open to parents and professionals in the maternity field, and is expected to report on its findings in April.

Clarke, the MP for Stafford, said she was “delighted” to be launching the first parliamentary inquiry into birth trauma, and said the topic was “long overdue for discussion within parliament”.

“I was amazed that literally within the first five minutes of announcing the call for evidence on social media we already had submissions into our inquiry inbox, probably the quickest response I’ve ever had to anything I’ve announced as an MP in my career,” Clarke said.

“That really shows how incredibly important this subject is and how mums in the UK feel that they need to be listened to and they want their stories to be heard.”

Clarke was inspired to launch the inquiry after needing emergency surgery and thinking she was going to die after the birth of her daughter in 2022. “I gave birth to my daughter last year and had a third-degree tear, which is a very significant birth injury, and which resulted in me having a huge surgery,” she said.

Between 25,000 and 30,000 women experience PTSD after birth in the UK, according to the Birth Trauma Association.

The inquiry is currently collecting written and oral evidence to inform the policy report. The report is due to put forward policy recommendations for the government and will be published April 2024.

Evidence will be heard over several sessions between February and March. Its main objectives will be to “identify common features in maternity care (antenatally, during labour and birth, and postnatally) that contribute to birth trauma, highlight examples of good practice, both in the quality of maternity care and in providing support to women who have had traumatic birth experiences, and to look at the impact of birth trauma on women’s relationships, ability to bond with their baby and future decision-making”.

The inquiry said they particularly welcomed submissions “from people from marginalised communities such as those who are racially minoritised, LGBT, economically disadvantaged, homeless, asylum-seeking or displaced, care-experienced, neurodivergent or facing any other circumstances [that mean] their voice is less likely to be heard”.

Clarke spoke of her own experience during a Commons debate on birth trauma in October, and said the reaction to her speech showed just how important the issue was to many people in the UK.

She said: “There is such a focus on the baby post-birth that we sometimes forget about the mums and the fact that they need care too. And I was really amazed when I shared my personal story last year the huge amount of people that contacted me from across the country that shared their own difficult stories.

“It was very clear to me that there was a real taboo about talking about birth trauma, and people felt that they couldn’t share with friends or colleagues at work if they had had a birth injury or had mental psychological distress based on giving birth.”

Separate to the inquiry, Clarke has called on the government to consider birth trauma as part of the women’s health strategy update next week, because “it is recognised and included”.

Touched By Adoption

Touched By Adoption
So many lives,
So many hearts,
So many tears,
So many smiles.

One mother cries,
One mother smiles,
One mother’s guilt,
One mother’s joy.

A child lost,
A child gained,
A child missed,
A child loved.

So many emotions,
So many pains,
So many regrets,
so many disappointments.

One day the pain may go,
One day there may be joy,
One day there may be answers,
One day who knows what happens.

Britain’s ‘most hated woman’ who tried to buy twins from the US for £8,200 in cash-for-babies scandal wants to meet the girls one last time now they have grown up

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11438577/Judith-Kilshaw-tried-buy-twins-8-200-wants-meet-girls.html

Britain’s ‘most hated woman’ who tried to buy twins from the US for £8,200 in cash-for-babies scandal wants to meet the girls one last time now they have grown up

Judith and Alan Kilshaw adopted Kiara and Keyara Wecker from US mother
Tranda Wecker, then 28, had put the girls up for sale on the internet
Another couple, Richard and Vickie Allen, had already bought them for £4,000

By Harry Howard For Mailonline

Published: 11:21, 17 November 2022 | Updated: 13:36, 17 November 2022

A mother who was reviled as Britain’s ‘most hated woman’ after paying to adopt baby twins from the US said she wants to meet the girls one last time.  Judith Kilshaw and her husband Alan sparked an international storm after it emerged they paid £8,200 in December 2000 to adopt babies Kiara and Keyara Wecker.  The Kilshaws then flew to the US and brought the girls back to their home in Buckley, North Wales.  The girls’ mother, Missouri hotel receptionist Tranda Wecker, then 28, had put them up for sale on the internet.  The trouble and publicity began when it emerged that another couple, Richard and Vickie Allen, had already bought the babies for £4,000.  The Allens, who had been caring for Kiara and Keyara for two months when they were taken to the UK, furiously insisted they had had been kidnapped.   The FBI became involved, with the subsequent international legal battle ending with the children being raised by a third set of foster parents in Missouri.  Now the story is being re-told in Amazon Prime documentary Three Mothers, two Babies and a Scandal, which launches on Friday.  According to the Mirror, Ms Kilshaw, now 67, says in the programme that she would ‘like to meet’ the girls so she can ‘find peace’.  It emerged in 2018 that the girls, then 18, had just started university and were both studying social sciences.  Mrs Kilshaw left her husband in 2007 for a man 13 years her junior who she had met in a nightclub. Mr Kilshaw passed away aged 63 after suffering from lung disease.  Mrs Kilshaw said in the Amazon documentary: ‘Every day I think about what might have happened, what life might be like now if the girls had stayed with us.  It’s usually a nice outcome in my mind, but that’s all ifs and buts and maybes really, isn’t it?  You’ve got to face reality. I’m glad they moved on, I’m glad they went to university, I’m glad they have a life that’s the best thing you can hope for.  All I want now is to find peace, and that’s the thing I still haven’t managed to find. I would like to meet them, but together with the others.  It would be a very interesting if everybody involved could come together, say our piece and make our peace.’

The Allens had bought Kiara and Keyara, then six months old, from an adoption agency named A Caring Heart after being among the first to see the internet advert.  The girls’ mother had fallen pregnant as her second marriage was coming to an end and had decided to part with her unwanted children by selling them.  The Kilshaws then offered twice as much as the Allens had paid, but did not know the girls had already been sold.  The couple had spent £4,000 on unsuccessful IVF treatment and had looked into surrogacy before deciding to adopt abroad.   With the Kilshaws offering a much better price, A Caring Heart’s boss, Tina Johnson, told the Allens that their mother wanted to say a final goodbye to them and they would be away for just a couple of days.  Johnson then took the twins to a nearby hotel and passed them to the Kilshaws.  When the Allens saw the British couple apparently leaving with the babies, a fight broke out.  The Kilshaws, who went on to rename the twins Kimberly and Belinda, drove away with the babies and their birth mother, as the Allens gave chase in their car.   The couple ended up driving 4,000 miles to Arkansas, where they could formally adopt them.  During the drive, the Allens had called them and said: ‘We know where you are. We are going to find you.’

The Kilshaws ended up paying more money to Wecker, for her flight back to Missouri, as well as £1,400 to a lawyer to organise adoption papers.  Eight days later the Kilshaws were back in the UK and were at first cared for at the couple’s farmhouse.  But a protection order was served on the Kilshaws in January 2001 and the twins were taken into the care of Flintshire social services.  Flintshire County Council later lodged an appeal to the Family Division of the High Court to make the twins wards of court.  Then-Prime Minister Tony Blair even weighed in as the scandal grew, calling the sale of the children over the internet ‘disgusting’.  In April 2001, the Kilshaws lost their battle to keep the children after a judge ruled it would not be in the ‘welfare interests’ of the twins.  In California, the Allens were forced to withdraw their custody claim after Mr Allen was arrested in the spring of 2001, when two babysitters, ages 13 and 14, said he had sexually molested them.  The outcome of that case is unclear. Kiara and Keyara ended up being taken in by foster parents in Missouri.  The case came after Mrs Kilshaw had offered her grown-up daughter £3,000 to act as a surrogate mother.  Louisa Richardson, then 22, angrily rejected the offer. Mr and Mrs Kilshaw already had two young sons at the time but wanted a daughter.  It was after that refusal that Mrs Kilshaw found the advert for the US twins.   In their quest to keep the twins, the Kilshaws had even been on TV personality Oprah Winfrey’s US show, where they faced Mr and Mrs Allen.   Mrs Kilshaw has since split from her second husband Stephen Sillett, whom she married when she was 53 and he was 40.

Dealing with reunion

Apart from the first months of reunion Anthony was out in Canada for two years but we were able to keep up regular communication.

One of the ways was through adoption.com’s chat room and sometimes we would have long chats. Anthony didn’t have a very good sense of humour and didn’t seem to realize how incredibly funny he could be.  Occasionally I teased Anthony that the midwife dropped him on his head when he was born and knocked his sense of humour out of him which he did see the funny side of.

Anthony wanted me to have another child as he wanted a sibling as his father rejected him so he couldn’t have a relationship with his half-brother.  There was a slim chance that Rick and I could have a child together but it didn’t happen which Anthony had to learn to live with.

Around this time a lady who emailed me who sounded desperate about wanting to find her son who was adopted – he was 22 years old – and asked me for advice.  I didn’t have a clue where she got my email address so assumed it was from one of the groups/forums I belonged to and was certain she was British as well.  Had to be honest that I found Anthony by accident and through which website.  Gave her some constructive advice about how to go about searching and who to approach for help on the matter.  I hoped to get some feedback though.

Our eldest dog, Bouncer, wasn’t to goo and he collapsed once then his back legs went on him again while we were out. It was probably to do with his heart murmur but it was still upsetting to see it happen as he seemed so happy.  We were thankful he had gone on this long really as we knew he had a heart murmur for the past 6 years.

Queen Elizabeth II dies at 96 after historic 70-year reign, plunging Britain and a world that loved her into mourning for an unparalleled lifetime of ‘service, duty and devotion’ and making Charles the new King

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4071298/Qeen-elizabeth-II-dead-aged-96-prince-charles.html

 

Queen Elizabeth II dies at 96 after historic 70-year reign, plunging Britain and a world that loved her into mourning for an unparalleled lifetime of ‘service, duty and devotion’ and making Charles the new King

*   The death of Queen Elizabeth II is announced at the age of 96, ending the longest reign of any British monarch
*   Doctors became concerned about her health today with her children and grandchildren racing to Balmoral
*   World joins Britain in mourning, and celebrating, devoted sovereign who ruled the country for 70 years
*   Queen’s son Charles, the former Prince of Wales, becomes King and is expected to address the nation shortly
Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary became Queen on Feb 6 1952 aged just 25, when her father George VI died
*  Her reign spanned 15 British Prime Ministers from Sir Winston Churchill to Liz Truss and 14 US Presidents
*   And on September 9, 2015, she became longest-reigning British monarch, surpassing Queen Victoria’s record
*   Queen dies aged 96: Follow for the latest updates from Balmoral as Britain’s Elizabeth II passes

By Martin Robinson, Chief Reporter and Mark Duell and Nick Enoch and Harry Howard, History Correspondent For Mailonline

Published: 18:30, 8 September 2022 | Updated: 18:37, 8 September 2022

Queen Elizabeth II has died today aged 96.  Her son Charles, the former Prince of Wales, is now King. He will address the shocked nation imminently, as the world grieves Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.  All her children had rushed to Balmoral after doctors became ‘concerned’ for her health. Hours later she died, surrounded by her family.  At 6.30pm her death was confirmed. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow’.

The Queen’s death will see Britain and her Commonwealth realms enter into a ten-day period of mourning as millions of her subjects in the UK and abroad come to terms with her passing.  And as her son accedes to the throne, there will also be a celebration of her historic 70-year reign that saw her reach her Platinum Jubilee this year – a landmark unlikely to be reached again by a British monarch.  Tributes are already pouring in for Her Majesty, to many the greatest Briton in history and undoubtedly the most famous woman on earth. To billions around the world she was the very face of Britishness.  To her subjects at home, Her Majesty was the nation’s anchor, holding firm no matter what storm she or her country was facing from the uncertain aftermath of the Second World War to, more recently, the pandemic. She was also steadfast as she dealt with tragedies and scandals in her own family, most recently the fallout from Megxit and the death of her beloved husband Prince Philip.  Charles will embark on a tour of the UK before his mother’s funeral with his wife Camilla, who the Queen announced would be crowned her eldest son’s Queen Consort in an historic statement to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee and 70 years on the throne on February 6.  The Queen’s passing came more than a year after that of her beloved husband Philip, her ‘strength and guide’, who died aged 99 in April 2021. Since his funeral, where she poignantly sat alone because of lockdown restrictions, her own health faltered, and she was forced to miss an increasing number of events mainly due to ‘mobility problems’ and tiredness.  In July she travelled to Scotland for her annual summer break, but cancelled her traditional welcome to Balmoral Castle in favour of a small more private event because of her health, believed to be linked to her ability to stand. And at the end of July, Prince Charles represented his mother and opened the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham with the Duchess of Cornwall. In late August Queen missed the Braemar Gathering the first time she was not at the Highland Games in her 70-year reign.  But she was well enough to meet with Boris Johnson at Balmoral to accept his resignation, before asking the 15th Prime Minister of her reign, Liz Truss, to form a Government. Her Majesty, who stood with the support of a stick and smiled as she greeted Ms Truss in front of a roaring fire, had not been seen in public for two months. It would be her final picture.  In June Her Majesty missed every day of Royal Ascot for the first time since her coronation in 1953. A month earlier she was forced to miss the State Opening of Parliament for the first time in 59 years, due to what her spokesman described as ‘episodic mobility problems’ which they said she was continuing to experience.  But despite her frailty, she continued to receive her daily Red Box from Downing Street containing Government paperwork to read and sign and continued engagements to the end most significantly with the memorial service for her late husband at Westminster Abbey at the end of March and her appearances over the course of her Platinum Jubilee weekend in early June.  Before Her Majesty’s death, the past two years had been hugely challenging and upsetting for the ageing monarch. She was forced to cut adrift Prince Andrew, reputedly her favourite son, after he initially fought then settled a civil case with Virginia Roberts Giuffre for up to £12million. Ms Giuffre, a sex slave of Jeffrey Epstein, accused the Duke of York of sexually abusing her. His mother stripped him of his titles but there was a show of support weeks later when he was with her from start to finish at Philip’s Westminster Abbey memorial service.  And there was continuing grief for the Queen because of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to quit as frontline royals and the soap opera this brought with it including the public rift with Charles and Prince William. She was however able to meet their daughter Lilibet who was named after her with the nickname used by George VI and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh when the family came to the UK for the Platinum Jubilee in June but barely took part.  However, as the Jubilee celebrations kicked off with Trooping the Colour, the Queen delighted tens of thousands of Britons who had packed The Mall by appearing twice on the Buckingham Palace balcony with senior members of her family, including Prince Charles, Prince William and Kate Middleton.  She then headed to Windsor to symbolically light the first in a chain of beacons stretching around the UK and across the world, brushing off previously announced ‘discomfort’ that forced her to miss the next day’s Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral.  And Her Majesty shocked even members of her own family by appearing alongside Paddington Bear in a sketch to kick off the Platinum Party at the Palace gig on June 3.  On the last day of the Jubilee celebrations, after a majestic pageant depicting every decade of Her Majesty’s reign had processed a long a two-mile route, the Queen appeared for a final time on the Buckingham Palace balcony, delighting the millions watching on in person and on TV.  As Charles put it on her 80th birthday, his beloved ‘mama’ had been ‘a figure of reassuring calm and dependability an example to so many of service, duty and devotion, in a world of sometimes bewildering change and disorientation’. As king his reign begins at a time where the monarchy will be destablised by his mother’s death after her seven decades on the throne. He plans to slim down the number of taxpayer-funded royals because he realises that the public don’t want to pay for a huge Monarchy, insiders have said.  The Queen acceded to the throne on February 6, 1952, thrust on the rather shy and tentative 25-year-old while on a royal tour of Kenya with her beloved husband and soul mate Prince Philip following the death of her father George VI, who was her idol.  Later in life, Elizabeth looked back to her young adulthood, when she faced the daunting prospect of, in the near future, leading a Britain still reeling after the Second World War.  ‘When I was 21, I pledged my life to the service of our people, and asked for God’s help to make that vow,’ she recalled. ‘Although that vow was made in my salad days, when I was green in judgement, I do not regret nor retract one word of it.’

Nobody could have predicted that she would have reigned for 70 years, helping steer the country through crisis after crisis as well leading the Windsors through choppy waters that at times threatened the future and integrity of the Royal Family right up until her death.  Charles will now face the difficult task of following his mother.  Those who knew the Queen as a child described a serious and loyal daddy’s girl who idolised her father, who at the time of her birth had no desire to be King George VI or make his beloved eldest daughter his heir to the throne.  Baby Elizabeth, with her blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, entered the world at 2.40am on April 26 1926 in a Mayfair townhouse to her proud parents Prince Albert, Duke of York, and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Within a decade the Yorks would be Britain’s most reluctant king and queen after the abdication of Edward VIII.  Her Majesty was a curious and bright girl, described by Winston Churchill as a ‘character’ at the age of two, while her governess later wrote of a love of animals and dedication to responsibility that would see her reign for seven decades.  In fact, when she went on her first overseas tour, accompanying her parents to Africa in 1947, she famously said: ‘I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.’

Nobody could have predicted that she would have reigned for 70 years, helping steer the country through crisis after crisis as well leading the Windsors through choppy waters that at times threatened the future and integrity of the Royal Family right up until her death.  And after Prince Philip’s passing, Her Majesty’s health quickly began to suffer.  In October 2021 the Queen spent a rare night in hospital after doctors sent her for tests, forcing her to apologetically miss a visit to Northern Ireland.  She had worked ten of the previous 20 days, and was back at her desk within hours of being discharged, despite having to cancel an appearance at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow.  Concerns for the nation’s longest reigning sovereign had been heightened in recent months given her age, frailer appearance of late and positive Covid-19 test on February 20, 2022.  She had to cancel a series of engagements including virtual audiences after suffering from ‘mild, cold-like symptoms’.  The Queen had to rest for three months on doctors’ orders and had also been regularly seen using a walking stick. She remarked during a Windsor Castle audience in February 2022: ‘Well, as you can see, I can’t move.’

She would later admit that Covid had left her exhausted.  But even while suffering from poor health, she continued with ‘light duties’ as head of state – including working from her red boxes, sent to her every day and containing policy papers, Foreign Office telegrams, letters and other State papers which had to be read and, where necessary, approved and signed.  There were also countless virtual engagements.  When she missed the State Opening of Parliament, it was the first time she had done so since 1963, when she was pregnant with Prince Edward. The only previous occasion was when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew in 1959.  In her place, Prince Charles, who was accompanied by Prince William, read her speech for the first time as the Queen watched on TV from Windsor Castle, but the Sovereign’s Throne in the House of Lords remained symbolically empty.  Days after missing the State Opening of Parliament, the Queen was clapped and cheered as she attended the Royal Windsor Horse Show over successive days, watching an all-star line-up that included Dame Helen Mirren, Tom Cruise and Katherine Jenkins perform.  Her Majesty, who looked cheerful and well, was given a standing ovation as she walked to her seat despite her recent frailty, surprising those who believed she may miss the event altogether.  The monarch then caused further surprise just a couple of days later when she unexpectedly visited Paddington Station in London to officially open the Elizabeth line with her youngest son Prince Edward, who had been scheduled to attend on his own.  Her Majesty used a walking stick but was steady on her feet as she was shown how to top up an Oyster card.  At the Chelsea Flower Show, the Queen refused to let her mobility problems stop her from attending as she toured the event in a chauffeur-driven golf buggy.  But it was over the Platinum Jubilee weekend in early June that the Queen really displayed her commitment to duty.  On the day of Trooping the Colour on June 2, 2022, she appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony with senior royals including Prince Charles and Prince William.  Also present was the Duchess of Cambridge and her and William’s children Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis.  Her Majesty beamed as 71 aircraft took part in a flypast above Buckingham Palace as part of the tributes to her.  In a sign of the toll that the appearances had had on her, a spokesman said later that day that due to ‘discomfort’ she had suffered, she would miss the next day’s Service of Thanksgiving.  But she was still able to head to Windsor Castle that evening to symbolically launch more than 3,500 flaming tributes to her 70-year reign.  The event formed part of a dual ceremony with her grandson the Duke of Cambridge, who was waiting 22 miles away at Buckingham Palace where the centrepiece of the beacon chain a 68-foot ‘Tree of Trees’ sculpture was illuminated.  The next day, The Queen watched on television as her family and hundreds of other guests packed into St Paul’s to pay tribute to her.  It was Harry and Meghan’s first joint engagement in two years, but the couple were kept apart from Prince William, Kate, Prince Charles and Camilla and left separately.  It was announced that day that Her Majesty, a keen horse racing fan, would also miss the Epsom Derby, an event she has attended on dozens of occasions throughout her reign.  On the final day of the celebrations, a two-mile pageant told the story of her life, and the nation, with an eccentric and imaginative carnival-like display.  The Queen appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony at the end of the day, where she watched a stirring rendition of the National Anthem.  Her Majesty was seen turning to Prince George and asking: ‘Wow! Did you expect that?’ after the anthem rendition.

In a message of thanks after her appearance, she acknowledged her absences in previous days but said her ‘heart’ had been with well-wishers.  In a further sign of her devotement to duty, she also said she remained ‘committed to serving’ the nation to ‘the best of my ability’ a promise she kept.  Her reign will define the British monarchy for centuries. In 2015 she passed Victoria to be Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and at her death was both the longest-reigning and the oldest-ever ruler in the 1,100-year history of the English crown. Her 73-year marriage to Philip was the longest for a sovereign.  The Queen took such records in her stride. On turning 80, she quoted Groucho Marx:  ‘Anyone can get old,’ she said. ‘All you have to do is live long enough.’

Through such longevity Elizabeth inevitably experienced personal lows as well as great national highs but won deeper admiration for the stoicism she showed in the face of adversity and her ability to remain untainted by scandals that occasionally engulfed her family.  She famously declared 1992 her ‘annus horribilis’, after it saw a devastating fire gut Windsor Castle and the marriages of her children Anne, Charles and Andrew all falter.  Five years later she steered the Crown through its gravest crisis since the abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII, when Princess Diana was killed in a Paris car crash.  And in the last years of her life she faced her grandson Harry exiting royal life and entering into a war of words with ‘The Firm’ after moving to California with wife Meghan rather than continue living in Frogmore Cottage in Windsor.  The Sussexes also carried out a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021, and Harry is planning to release a tell-all book.  In January 2020 the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shocked the world by announcing their intention to step down as senior royals.  Buckingham Palace said all were ‘saddened’ by their decision to permanently step down as working royals, but they remained ‘much loved members of the family’.

A statement added that the Queen had ‘written confirming that in stepping away from the work of the Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service’.

But the Sussexes hit back with a statement of their own, saying: ‘We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.’

Sex allegations dogged her second son Andrew, the Duke of York, who settled his legal battle in New York with accuser Virginia Giuffre in February 2022 without the civil case having to go to trial. But the Queen also had to ensure he was removed from royal life and stripped him of his honorary military titles.  Besides his appearance at the memorial service for Prince Philip, Andrew was not seen in public at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. He had been set to attend the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s but then pulled out after testing positive for coronavirus.  The disgraced Duke of York was also listed on the order of service during Garter Day but did not appear at the actual event. It was later reported that Prince William and Prince Charles had lobbied the Queen to ensure he did not feature in public.  Despite the turbulence with members of her family family, the Queen remained a steadfast figure throughout.  She was composed, pragmatic and private, relying on her unshakable Christian faith to support her through the darkest moments.  And she also calmed the nation when faced with the global coronavirus pandemic, assuring Britons in March 2020 that the nation’s history ‘has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one’.  Born in Mayfair on April 21, 1926, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York was niece of the King, third in line to the throne and unlikely ever to ever be crowned. That afforded ‘Lilibet’ and her sister Margaret a sheltered if privileged upbringing.  But in 1936, when she was just 10, her uncle abdicated, making her father King and changing her destiny forever.  Just 16 years later, Elizabeth came to the throne as a rather shy 25-year-old, ruling over a nation that had lost much of its power in the world and an empire that was crumbling fast.  Yet, she surprised many by emerging stronger than ever from the winds of change, steering the monarchy safely through an era of storm as well as calm.  She refused to be panicked as public weariness at the antics of some younger members of her family led to a deeply damaging collapse in popularity and threatened to undermine the old-fashioned values of stability, honesty and hard work embodied by the Queen.  Through trials and tribulations, the Queen never lost her overwhelming sense of duty to the nation and it repaid her with an appreciation that often stood in marked contrast to its view of other royals.  The Queen recognised the worth of traditional values in a changing world but refused to be bound by them.  As a long reigning constitutional monarch, her knowledge and professionalism were unparalleled.  Fourteen prime ministers came and went during her reign, from Sir Winston Churchill to Boris Johnson. Liz Truss was her 15th.  She was Head of State, the Armed Forces, the Commonwealth and the Church of England, but also a wife, a mother of four and Granny to eight grandchildren and Great-Granny to 11 great-grandchildren.  Her whole world, family and daily surroundings were steeped in British history.  The Queen spent more than two-thirds of her life on the throne and in September 2015 at the age of 89, she became Britain’s longest ever reigning monarch, overtaking her royal ancestor Queen Victoria.  Like Victoria, the Queen celebrated a Diamond Jubilee, becoming only the second British monarch to complete 60 years on the throne.  She was the longest reigning still serving monarch in world taking the title after the death of the revered Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej in October 2016.  Critics saw the Queen as remote, out of touch, less modern and less approachable than other European royals. But supporters heralded her as a great British institution and deserving of respect.  Public adoration peaked during the Silver Jubilee of 1977, the Golden Jubilee of 2002 and Diamond Jubilee of 2012.  However, the Queen’s 50th year on the throne in 2002 saw her suffer the devastating double blow of losing both the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret within weeks of one another.  With the death of her beloved mother, it was left to the Queen to take on the role as the Royal Family’s matriarch.  As monarch, she served as a focus of national pride through conflicts in which British servicemen paid the ultimate price in her name.  She was a figure of continuity as her country changed in the 20th century, through the Millennium and in the 21st century, from new technological advances to a succession of British governments of different political persuasions.  Lately, the Queen had begun to make a number of concessions to her advancing years including cutting down completely on long-haul travel and getting other members of the family to undertake investitures on her behalf which involved her standing on her feet for more than an hour at a time.  A temporary handrail was installed in the steep steps outside St Paul’s Cathedral for the Queen and Prince Philip, then 95, to use at a service to celebrate the monarch’s 90th birthday in 2016.  She was also seen using a walking stick at some of the last engagements but has reportedly dismissed any talk of her using a wheelchair.  The Queen also relinquished more than two dozen of her most high-profile patronages as she took another step back from royal duties, with Charles, Prince William, Prince Edward, Princess Anne and their partners taking up the slack.  During her lifetime there was unprecedented change. Penicillin was discovered, man landed on the Moon, Britain got its first woman prime minister and the internet was invented. She was a constant for the UK and the Commonwealth in those times.  The public looked to the Queen in times of crisis or tragedy September 11, the London bombings, the death of Diana and, more recently, the coronavirus pandemic.  After the Princess of Wales was killed in a Paris car crash in 1997, millions of mourners were left wondering why the Queen took so long to speak publicly about the tragedy.  The royals were perceived as being unemotional and criticised for their reserve.  At the time, the Queen was doing her duty as a grandmother, consoling the heartbroken Princes William and Harry at Balmoral.  Aides acknowledged important lessons were learned in terms of what the public expected from the royals in times of grief.  Ironically, it was probably the Queen’s early recognition that the monarchy needed to be modernised as the traditional class barriers of British society were eroded that led to its later difficulties.  Soon after acceding the throne on the premature death of her beloved father, George VI, in 1952, she began to sweep aside some of the more open signs of class distinction and royal mystery.  The Queen introduced the idea of ‘walkabouts’ haphazard but happy meetings with people in the crowds thronging the streets around official visits and refused to drop them despite security worries.  The annual ‘coming out’ presentation of debutantes at Buckingham Palace was ended in 1958 and garden parties, receptions and lunches were extended to an ever wider cross-section of society.  Gone for ever was the long accepted idea that ‘society’ was confined to the few people suitable for presentation at Court.  A significant watershed and probable beginning of the idea of the royals as soap opera came in the late 1960s with the filming of the TV documentary Royal Family.  Smashing viewing records around the world, it gave the first intimate glimpse of the Queen and her relatives at play as well as at work.  But it also whetted the appetite of a royal-crazy world for public revelations about long-protected private lives.  The prolonged silence observed by the press barons of the 1930s over the affair of Edward VIII, then Prince of Wales, and American divorcee Wallis Simpson became inconceivable in the modern day.  If the Queen presided over a sea-change in the way the Royal Family was perceived, she also handled with great skill and statesmanship the massive social and political upheavals of the post-war world.  She helped steer the transition of the British Empire into a looser grouping of Commonwealth nations bound together by ties of friendship as well as tradition.  Many newly independent states chose to drop her as Queen, but she undertook the titular role of Head of the Commonwealth and attached great importance to its work.  Like the 14 prime ministers who served her at home, dozens of Commonwealth heads of state drew on her great experience for help and advice, gathered over several decades of extensive overseas trips.  Prince Philip stepped down from doing public engagements in 2017 but was still by the Queen’s side throughout his final years before his death in April 2021.  Now the huge job of leading the country has been left to her son Prince Charles, who has an enormous challenge on his hands and will certainly not be monarch for anywhere near the length of time as his devoted mother.

Almost a volatile time

It felt strange talking about Anthony with my cousin as I didn’t say much about him when sending letters to my parents who rarely mentioned him.  Of course my mum was extremely annoyed about Anthony wanted me and my family in his life but the extent of this came out over the next year or so.  My sister and I hadn’t had any contact for six years by this time and it would another five years and our mum dying before  we did.

Rick had joined the site that Anthony had set up and he had included Rick’s family tree on the site, we were administrators of that side. When I thought about the early days it was difficult as Rick had his issues to deal with and Anthony had problems accepting him.  Rick wasn’t his father who wouldn’t accept Anthony but it got easier.

Anthony and I started chatting on msn messenger as we had fallen out over the adoption papers a few weeks previously although we have been sending the occasional email.  We could both be stubborn at the best of times but I was relieved we talking again.  The fall out with Anthony at that time was due to Anthony wanting to ask questions about the adoption papers but as I had never seen them I couldn’t answer him. When I tried to talk to him about the papers he kicked off so I sent him an email stating why certain things had been crossed out and replaced with other words. I also let him know what was true and what wasn’t.

*This was a period when life was good with the occasional hiccup.  I was getting used to the occasional bad times from my son and was just letting it go over my head.  At times I would be bewildered why he would suddenly be angry.  I also knew I wouldn’t get a reasonable response back if I asked as I was expected to be psychic and just know.  Eventually I found out he had been as bad with my family although by 2006 I saw it as understandable with my mum as she had lied to him.  Me knowing my parents could have been honest to both of us since late 2001 contributed to this.  My dad was forgiven much quicker as he knew exactly what my mum was like so it was easier than dealing with her wrath.

At this time I couldn’t stop thinking about why I couldn’t remember signing the Consent to Relinquish form.  A friend from an online group, Empty Arms, seemed to think we possibly signed the form at a magistrate’s home rather than at court but I was sure I hadn’t done either. If I did go to a magistrate’s home or court then I certainly had a big whole in my memory – it was almost scary.

*As it turned out I didn’t get the Consent to Relinquish form and eventually I just gave up.  I kept trying periodically but was constantly given the run around so in the end I got tired and fed up of the stress it was causing.

Family Tree

Rick and I had started doing our family trees back in 2004 which is how I found my son without actively searching for him.  It immediately gave us something to talk about but it also was the start of finding out some of my relatives names had been shortened or middle names used intead of first names.  This was quite challenging and interesting at the same time.

Being on Genes Reunited proved to be handy in other ways including getting back in touch with one of my cousins.  The last time I had spoken to him had been nine years previously at our Nanna’s funeral.  Contact has been sporadic since then but of course it’s easier through Facebook.  We met up again at my sister’s 60th birthday four years ago along with another of our cousins and one of his brothers whom I hadn’t seen since our Nanna’s funeral.  Sadly that cousin passed on last year aged 59 years and almost 2 months younger than me.  At least my last memory of him was being hugged so tightly I could hardly breath at my sister’s birthday party.

During the early months of contact with my son was a bit up and down as he was charming one minute then nasty whenever he was in a bad mood.  It was quite stressful at times and sometimes I wonder how I coped.

 

June 2024
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