Mother Denied Justice Campaigns to Transform the Family Courts
Victoria Hudson has been campaigning for several years to increase the protection of domestic abuse survivors and children who become entangled in the family court system. Tragically, Victoria and her daughter have themselves experienced untold suffering, trauma, and harm at the hands of the family courts.
Victoria, who campaigns under the banner #JusticeforFCchildren, worked alongside other campaigners to successfully lobby the Government to review unsafe contact orders and the removal of children by the family courts. A report, published by the Ministry of Justice in June 2020 laid bare many hard truths about long-standing failings, including harming children by placing them in danger by “enabling the continued control of children and adult victims of domestic abuse by alleged abusers, as well as the continued abuse of victims and children.”
Victoria is now passionately driven to bring about the radical changes necessary to protect domestic abuse survivors and their children from harmful and unjust state systems and structures, by making the family courts and their proceedings more transparent.
Like too many other women experiencing domestic violence and abuse, instead of protecting them, the state colluded with Victoria’s abuser in the most punishing way possible by severing mother and child. In September 2018, Victoria’s daughter (then aged 2) was physically and forcibly removed from her family home and placed under a Care Order with her ex-partner, who is not biologically related to her. Many other children in domestic abuse cases are severed from their mothers by adoption; the mother being blamed for the abuse rather than protected, and their right to family life permanently erased.
For Victoria and other mothers in her position, it is ironic that the Joint Committee on Human Rights, is conducting an inquiry into hundreds of forced adoptions that severed babies from unmarried mothers during the 1950s to 1970s, when mothers experiencing domestic abuse are currently facing similar infringements of human rights in the family courts.
Victoria is requesting the Ministry of Justice immediately review of her case in the family courts and is requesting the Joint Committee on Human Rights conduct an inquiry into whether family court decisions are breaching rights to family life.
 “Assessing Risk of Harm to Children and Parents in Private Law Children Cases” (Ministry of Justice, June 2020)
If you want to support Victoria’s campaign, you can do three things:
First and foremost, email a letter to Lord David Wolfson MP, Minister for Family Courts to request that he instigates an immediate review of Victoria’s own case in the family courts. If successful, this will provide a test case for the campaign and lead to further reviews. Use this letter to draft your own. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also email a letter to Ms Harriet Harman MP, Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, requesting that alongside the current review into historic forced adoptions, she also orchestrates a review of family court decisions in relation to their impact upon the rights of children and birth mothers to family life. Use this letter to draft your own. Her email is email@example.com
Help Victoria to get more supporters and allies by following and sharing #JusticeforFCchildren on Twitter @Victoria_Hudson and Facebook facebook.com/getmhome
 “Assessing Risk of Harm to Children and Parents in Private Law Children Cases” (Ministry of Justice, June 2020)
Recently I made a new friend connection on Facebook who is an adoptee and has written Your Secret My Story. I do want to get the book as from the little I know about it has helped me to talk a bit more to my sister.
Back in September we went down south to see family and give one of my sister’s granddaughters, our great niece, her birthday present. Before we came back my sister and I went through some crates that had come from our Dad’s home after he passed on. We came home with two crates of photographs and a few pieces of paperwork as my sister knows we are into family history/genealogy. Anything we didn’t want she said to chuck.
While we were going through the paperwork there were a couple of photographs of my son there so we talked about him. She feels bad because she feels she should love him as he is her nephew but doesn’t like him. I can understand where my sister is coming from as he can be very charming one minute then be angry when he doesn’t hear what he wants to hear. I told her not to feel bad about it as we had the same attitude and whilst I love him because he is my son and always will, I struggle to like him at times. We are so much alike with likes and dislike, even mannersisms, but adoption wrecked any chance of a happy reunion.
When we went back down south in November for my birthday the subject came up again. This time my sister mentioned that she and my parents refused to give my son any information as I was the one whom he needed to talk to. At the time when my son found my family I wasn’t talking to them due to an argument but two years of not talking to my parents I got back in touch with them. Instead of being honest with my son they continued to tell him they didn’t know where I was. My sister didn’t know where I was so she was honest. She told me that our parents told him the same and if they found out where I was they would let me know he wanted contact. I told my sister they never said a word to me so delayed contact for three years. It would have continued if I hadn’t found him.
I also told my sister of a conversation I had with our Mum over the phone back in 2006. She was visibly upset when I told her our Mum had said she couldn’t understand why my son wanted to know me as I was nothing to him and his only family was his adoptive one. My sister said it was cruel of our Mum to say that. I haven’t told her of the letter our Mum wrote to my son telling him to accept that I didn’t want to be found.
My sister needed to be told of both as she believed our parents would be honest with me about what actually happened. She has a better idea why I was so angry at that period in my life.
Anne Silke: Fostered to a Fianna Fáil TD, beaten and abused
AS A CHILD, Anne Silke ate moss off the walls of the Tuam mother and baby institution. It was delicious, she would laugh, because she was starving. Before she died earlier this year, she would say with a wry smile that she would never eat batch bread, because of how the nuns threw it at her and the other “home” children, as if they were animals. That ability to crack jokes at the cruelty she experienced when young and the life she carved out for herself as a mother of eight children drew people to her, finding hope in her resilience and warmth in her company. But there was a silence Silke never managed to break before she died, about the influential political family who fostered her. Teresa Lavina, a Galway-based documentary maker, first met Silke in 2019 through another Tuam survivor, PJ Haverty, who was close friends with Silke and had always voted for the family who fostered her. The feature-length documentary, Untold Secrets, that Lavina directed and produced was shown for the first time yesterday at the Galway Film Fleadh, shedding light on Silke’s unspoken experiences and the disturbing allegations that are part of her testimony. Silke gave testimony to the commission of investigation and saw it released just before she died last February, with a few lines referencing her own testimony about eating moss. But she was deeply hurt by the result and felt she still had not been heard. “I feel angry to a certain extent that we’re not getting justice or anything,” Silke said to camera, not long before she died. “Everything is left just hanging on until we pass away.”
In the documentary, Silke described deprivation and cruelty within the Tuam institution but also speaks of her experience of being fostered out to a man who she says was a TD in the Dáil and his wife, who had six of their own children who were already reared. She alleges she was treated like a “slave” in their home. Documentation provided by the state agency Tusla shows that Silke was fostered in 1958 by a “Mr and Mrs Killealea [sic]” and the documentary draws together testimony that the man who fostered Silke was Mark Killilea Sr, a founding member of Fianna Fáil who represented Galway constituencies within the Dáil for nearly three decades, from the 1930s to 1961. In 2014, after the story about the deaths of hundreds of children in Tuam broke around the world, Silke came to Catherine Corless hoping to find more answers and speak out. Corless remembers her as a woman who had “the heartiest laugh” and got on with everyone. “Anne was one of those people who wanted to tell her story because she was born in the Home in Tuam and she had a very tough childhood,” Corless said.
“She was fostered out to a woman in the early stages but that didn’t work out and Anne was sent back to the home again, so Anne is one of the few people that remembers life in the Tuam home.”
At the burial site on the former grounds of the Bon Secours institution, grass grown over the area above the sewage system where the remains of infants and children were found during a test excavation years before, Silke stood in a black and white check coat, a black scarf around her neck, speaking of how she remembered children being brought outside, kept in pens and bottles of milk made by Bina Rabitte, a woman working for the nuns at the institution whose name is a witness on many birth certs, being thrown into them.
Silke described a child being kicked by one of the nuns and never seeing that child again. “We all tried to survive, we used to be starving,” she said.
Her mother, who she was separated from in the institution but managed to make some contact with later in life, told her they were kept separate even while inside the walls. “She wasn’t allowed to hold me, cuddle me or feed me or do nothing for me, it was other mothers,” Silke said.
Catherine Corless saw the pile of records that Anne had been able to get from the State, detailing her time in the institution and her fostering. Since she died, family members have not been able to access the cache of documents she left behind and while Tusla recently released a document to Silke’s relatives detailing a timeline of her experiences within the institutions and confirming the time she spent fostered, Silke’s family could now wait months for copies of the documents to be provided. Before she died, Anne Silke stated to Lavina and others that she was abused and exploited as a child while fostered within the Belclare household of Mark Killilea Sr, a founding member of Fianna Fáil and an influential local politician in Tuam. Silke describes in the documentary how she was exploited for labour, made to milk cows morning and evening, brought home from school early to clean and polish the house, and never allowed to eat at the same table with the family. Silke said she was beaten if she did not complete her work or if she defended herself. Silke described being physically assaulted by one of the older adult sons in the house, who she said took over after the foster father died, and that she was sexually abused by another adult son. She was a child at the time of this sexual assault. According to statements made by family members and details from Silke’s testimony, as well as multiple sources who knew Silke and saw her file, the documentary points to Mark Killilea Jr as responsible for physically assaulting Silke. The ‘Golfgate’ event last year in Galway was a dinner in honour of the late TD and MEP. The documentary points to Jarlath Killilea as having sexually abused her. He was a former head of the Department of Tourism and Catering at Cork Institute of Technology. Both men are deceased. Silke describes how Killilea Jr “gave me awful beatings with the horses whip and that, the mother was hitting me and I was protecting myself so I went to hit her and he said you’ll never do that to my mother again, that’s what it was, and he stripped me from the waist down put me across the chair and belted me, and the blood pouring out of me, [I] couldn’t sit”.
Silke says she was told to tell anyone who asked that she fell.
A mother of eight, in a family photo Silke stands with all of her adult children, four daughters and four sons, all of them head and shoulders above her. Silke told her own children about her experiences and they speak out in the documentary, confirming that their mother had told them of these accounts of abuse and exploitation within the foster household. One of her daughters, Alice Kelly, speaks about how many families like her own are still affected by the ongoing legacy of the mother and baby home institutions, making it an intergenerational trauma. The children, like Silke, were robbed of any real affection or love within the Tuam institution and Kelly speaks about how her mother’s way of showing love was making sure they were sent to school, fed, and had clothes on their back. “I heard the stories growing up and it just became normal, it’s just something I accepted that these things happened to mum,” Kelly says, remembering how she asked her mother when she was a teenager about her experience and whether she had been sexually abused. I was,” her mother had told her. It was something Kelly then almost normalised, warning “that’s the generational impact it is having on this country”.
Another of Silke’s children, her son Seán Kelly, spoke over Zoom from New York to the director, Teresa Lavina, and named Jarlath Killilea as the man who sexually abused his mother and Mark Killilea Jr as the man who had beaten her. “[Jarlath] would have assaulted her sexually, physically, he was the one mum was very angry at too, obviously because she was young and didn’t know, she wasn’t even in her teens like.”
There were other witnesses to her exploitation at the hands of the foster family, according to Silke. “This neighbour, my friend will tell you, she used to collect me after the roll was being called and I’d have to polish the house, they had seven bedrooms,” said Silke.
“I hadn’t the work done and the son came along and he battered my face against the wall and pulled my head and battered me against the wall, and all my teeth destroyed. So [as a] 12-year-old I had four dentures, 12 years old.”
A source familiar with Silke’s file says there are hospital records included. “I’d say he denied it to the guards too,” she said.
“He battered me against the wall cause I didn’t have the work done.”
As well as domestic work, she was made to milk the cows morning and evening, spending her nights sleeping on a bed that she said was rotten through with urine. “Their bedroom wasn’t the same as mine,” she said.
“I’m sorry to say I used to wet the bed and I used to sleep in that bed every night.”
Silke remembered a social worker would come every month but she was told not to tell her that was the bedroom she slept in. Many survivors who were boarded out from Tuam and other institutions as children have spoken about being used for free labour by foster families. “They were making money on us, they made money on us,” said Silke.
“Even though we were not in the home they still got money for feeding us.”
There were many attempts at escape. Silke said she ran away a lot but guards brought her back, telling her to be good. “You were put into that situation that you couldn’t get out of,” she said.
“No matter where you went and told your story, you didn’t know who you were talking to then, it was all going back to them.”
Eventually, she told one of the “sisters”, one of the women in charge at her school, that she’d harm herself before going back. The timeline of Silke’s institutionalisation and fostering provided by Tusla shows that after being “discharged” from the foster family in 1967 Silke was sent to St Teresa’s on Temple Hill, a residential institution run by the Daughters of Charity in Dublin, and a place where there are accounts of another child sent from Tuam who was made to work unpaid in a local shop. The document from Tusla states that after being fostered, Silke also worked for a time in 1968 for another member of the Killilea family.4 states in Untold Secrets that she was “put working down in Kilkenny” before being put into a Magdalene Laundry and running away after six months there.” After that, she started working in a hospital. Donagh Killilea, son of the late Mark Killilea Jr, does speak within the documentary about the exploitation of children from the institutions: “We also have to keep in mind the awful conditions in which some survivors worked, they were forced labour on farms a lot of the time, they were forced labour in industry which was big at the time there was a lot of bad but I think there was even more good but it’s just not being looked at.”
Mr Killilea was shown testimony of Anne Silke by Lavina while the documentary was still in production. In response to questions from the Irish Examiner ahead of the broadcast, he described the allegations made by Anne Silke as both “unverified” and “inaccurate” but said “we have nothing to hide”, adding that “everyone involved in this has passed away and I’m very sorry for Anne’s family”.
According to records held by Galway County Council, the minutes of a council meeting show that Mark Killilea Sr opposed the closure of the Tuam institution on the basis that as long as the institution remained in Tuam “the county has the benefit of the money spent there”.
When she was in her mid-20s, Silke says, she went to a social worker in Galway to report “the abuse I got when I was a child with them people” but she was told she was no longer in the social worker’s jurisdiction.
In recent years, people close to Silke say that gardaí from Tuam visited her at her home in Leitrim to take her statement before she passed away. Close family members of Silke say she had been preparing to take Mark Killilea Jr, the alleged perpetrator of her physical assault, to the High Court, but he died before it was possible and she was also dissuaded by fear of losing her house due to legal costs. “Mum always wanted her story out,” her son Seán said.
*Please note; my views on surrogacy are exactly that my views.*
Firstly I do actually understand why people choose surrogacy over adopton and/or fostering but for me it’s something I couldn’t do. I’m probably very influenced of being a survivor of forced adoption and not having more children. and, while it wasn’t impossible to have more children, it was very unlikely my husband and I would.
What people don’t think about is that another woman carries a baby for a couple or single person so automatically the baby(ies) suffer trauma of being taken from the only mother they’ve known. They carry DNA from the mother as well. Babies aren’t born as blank slates so have a right to know, like adoptees, who carried them for 9 months. Not telling them is living a lie the same as sperm donor conceived children deserve the truth although now sperm domors can’t be anonymous now in the UK.
Why are donors no longer automatically anonymous?
Before the law was changed in 2005, we consulted widely with donor-conceived people and donors about how donor anonymity should work. We found there was a strong desire on both sides to leave the door open to potential contact if both parties wanted that.
We recognise that the prospect of being contacted by someone conceived from your donation can give rise to a lot of complex emotions.
We also give donor-conceived people the option of having a support worker on hand to act as an intermediary if they’d like to make contact with you.
The British couples who paid £40,000 for a child from Ukraine’s hellish baby factory: Exposed, the heartbreaking reality of slick promises sold to desperate surrogacy tourists
Bianca, 45, and Vinny Smith, 40, said surrogacy dream turned into a ‘nightmare’
The couple from Cheltenham paid £40k to a surrogacy company in the Ukraine
When they arrived for birth of their sons, Max and Alex, four, they were shocked
They saw women kept on a sweltering maternity ward with no air-con ‘like cattle’
By Tom Kelly and Susie Coen For Daily Mail
Published: 23:29, 23 June 2021 | Updated: 08:55, 24 June 2021
Bianca and Vinny Smith went through their packing checklist one last time. There was the paperwork, of course, all carefully ordered, double-checked and labelled. Foreign currency, phrasebooks and medical kits. Then, neatly stacked side by side, tiny Babygros and vests, packs of newborn nappies, bottles, teats and tins of powdered baby milk. For tomorrow, they would fly out to the Ukraine as a childless married couple and return a few weeks later as parents, to twin boys, born via a surrogate. After eight failed rounds of IVF and years of heartbreak plus thousands of pounds spent they’d almost given up on their dream of becoming parents. Now they were buzzing with excitement and nerves that finally their dream was about to be realised. Bianca heard about the biggest surrogacy company in the Ukraine on a Facebook group. ‘They were offering a take-home baby guarantee,’ she says. ‘You pay around £40,000 and you keep going until you get a baby. They’ll swap out egg donors or surrogates until they get it right. And we thought, well, perfect.’
But author Bianca, 45, claims their surrogacy dream turned into a ‘nightmare’ after they flew into the Ukraine for the birth of their sons, Max and Alex, now nearly four. There she saw, first hand, the true scale of the country’s shocking surrogate baby trade: women kept on a sweltering maternity ward with no air conditioning ‘like cattle’. Surrogates forced to wash with bottles of water in filthy toilets, as there were no showers and they were too terrified to complain through fear of reprisals against their families. The Smiths have since discovered that their surrogate, an unmarried mother-of-two from rural Ukraine, was rushed into emergency surgery for several blood transfusions after giving birth to their twins. They still feel guilty about what the surrogate went through on their behalf. ‘It’s very difficult for us to find out exactly how the surrogates were treated because of the language barrier,’ says Bianca. ‘But everyone I know who has been through the same firm as us has not been happy.’
The unavoidable fact is the couple, who are originally from Cheltenham, unwittingly fuelled a scandalous billion-pound international surrogacy trade in the Ukraine. ‘We adore our boys, but we are always thinking about our surrogate,’ Bianca says. ‘If only we had known about how she was treated, we would have done everything we could to make her experience better.’
While surrogacy is legal in the UK, the only payments allowed are expenses, i.e. those incurred as a result of the pregnancy, such as medical bills and compensation for time off work. Consequently, the number of UK women volunteering as surrogates is small which drives many couples abroad. The Ukraine is one of the few places in the world where commercial surrogacy is allowed, since Cambodia, India, Nepal and Thailand all banned it in recent years owing to the abusive treatment of women. Some countries, such as Spain, refuse to register children born from surrogates in the Ukraine because of similar concerns. With no such restrictions here, dozens of highly organised Ukrainian companies are free to target the UK market. Through slick, promotional events, they use marketing videos featuring happy British couples with their babies. Their surrogates,they assure customers, are treated ‘like diamonds’. But the brutal reality is that women are frequently kept under ‘surveillance’ during the final weeks of their pregnancies, banned from having contact with partners or other loved ones and forced to live under curfew, facing hefty fines if they break rules. Some were abandoned while in terrible pain, left with huge medical bills and are unable to have children of their own following complications in pregnancy. One who had been through open-heart surgery was allowed to bear a child despite the risk and was forcibly separated from her own son. Another woman revealed the clinic had missed her now incurable cervical cancer in pre-pregnancy checks. While the women are paid around £10,000 to carry babies for foreign couples more than twice the average annual salary the mental and physical cost is painfully high. Meanwhile, there seems to be no age restriction to couples who want a surrogate child. One agency told of a UK couple who wanted an heir for their property empire so had a child in their late 60s using the father’s sperm and a donor egg. When our undercover reporters posed as an elderly couple, they were told by several agencies it would be ‘no problem’. Bianca, who lives in Cozumel, Mexico, where Vinny is stationed as a military consultant, says the couple had tried to accept being childless. Then Bianca found out about the Ukrainian ‘guaranteed baby’ VIP programme for £43,000. They flew out in July 2016 for a consultation, and Bianca says: ‘Everything seemed perfect we were excited.’
Three months later, they returned to Kiev for Vinny’s sperm deposit and to choose their egg donor from a database that included pictures and videos of the Ukrainian women, and details such as eye colour, height and weight, education and occupation. Their surrogate, a 29-year-old baker, was found within a week. ‘I knew she was doing it for the money but that didn’t alarm me. I have a friend in the U.S. who has been a surrogate four times and does it for the money. I didn’t see it as exploitation,’ Bianca says.
They then met the surrogate, signed the paperwork and paid the deposit. The next month, the donor had her egg retrieval and by December the surrogate was pregnant with twins. For the next few months, their only contact with her was via Skype with a translator employed by the clinic. ‘We found out only her boyfriend and two kids knew about the surrogacy a lot of them do it in secret because it’s frowned upon by the locals,’ Bianca says.
As the babies’ due date approached, in July 2017, ‘everything started unravelling’. ‘It began with the service we were given when we arrived for the birth,’ says Bianca. ‘We were told we would have a “luxury” apartment but it was filthy absolutely disgusting. It was definitely not an environment for a newborn baby.’
The couple complained to the agency and asked for a cleaner but they did such a ‘terrible’ job they were forced to buy cleaning products and scrub down the apartment themselves. Bianca and Vinny, 40, had also paid for a private hospital for their surrogate, but were told she was going to the public hospital. ‘It was filthy and reeked of cigarette smoke,’ Bianca says. ‘The private hospital is used to surrogates, but in the public hospital, we were screamed and shouted at. They didn’t want us there.’
They’d also been told their surrogate would live in an apartment in Kiev for the last few weeks of the pregnancy ‘so they could keep an eye on her’ and ensure her pregnancy was going well.
SURROGACY IN THE UKRAINE: THE RULES
~ Only married heterosexual couples are allowed to use surrogates in the Ukraine and they must have a medical reason why they cannot carry their own children.
~ There has to be some genetic link between the prospective parents and the child, either through the sperm or the egg. The surrogate cannot use her own eggs.
~ For the surrogates in the Ukraine, the rules are much more strict. Women must sign contracts waiving their right to even hold the baby after the birth and are hit with hefty penalties for infringements, as seen by our undercover reporters.
~ The contract states if the surrogate is left infertile due to the pregnancy or childbirth, she is only entitled to £5,700 in compensation from the prospective parents.
~ If the child is born ‘with abnormalities through the fault of the surrogate’ she must pay the parents £11,500 in compensation.
~ She will also have to pay a £17,000 fine for the ‘refusal to issue documents’ confirming the parental rights of the intended parents.
~ She is not permitted to ‘pick up the child(ren) at the hospital and cannot object to the potential parents picking up their child(ren) immediately after birth’.
~ The largest possible fines which can be issued to a surrogate include for a ‘breach of confidentiality’ speaking to the Press, human rights or public organisations which would see a surrogate fined £22,000.
~ The surrogate must reimburse the parents ‘for all medical expenses’ if she refuses to have an abortion ‘if the child(ren) is found to have abnormalities and the potential parents opt to terminate the pregnancy’.
~ The contract also states she must: ‘Strictly follow the diet, lifestyle and regime of work, rest, physical and emotional stress’ that is recommended to her.
~ She cannot even ‘swim or sunbathe’ without the consent of the parents, agency and a physician.
Nanny still looking after couple’s surrogate baby 10 months after birth
Kristie Baysinger, a nanny from Texas, took to TikTok to share the heartbreaking story of 10-month-old surrogate baby Alexander in a video that has been viewed almost one million times
By Paige Holland Showbiz Audience Writer
17:14, 17 JUN 2021Updated17:18, 17 JUN 2021
A nanny who was hired to look after a couple’s baby has revealed how she ended up raising him for the first 10 months of his life. Kristie Baysinger, a nanny from Texas, collected baby Alexander from his surrogate in Oklahoma after his parents were unable to fly from the UK to pick him up due to coronavirus restrictions. But little did she know she’d still be caring for him almost a year down the line. She shared the heartbreaking story of how rewarding, yet challenging it has been in a TikTok video that has racked up almost one million views. In the clip, she explained: “My agency called me and said: ‘Hey, can you come pick up this new surrogate baby from this surrogate who does not want to take him home?’ So, we went to Oklahoma to pick him up.”
However, the process of getting a social security number has been “a struggle,” she admitted. We’ve been getting no feedback. We’ve called social security administration and they say we’re in the loop just like everybody else is. We’re just doing our best over here and just raising this little boy and just being as sweet as we can until he can return home to his parents.”
She went on to say how they’re waiting to see whether his parents can get their passports sorted so they can come and pick him up, if not she’ll be travelling to Scotland with Alexander and her family to “help with the transition.” “They miss him terribly and want to see him, and they talk to him daily,” she said.
“Hopefully his social security gets here soon so that I can apply for his passport and we can get him back home.”
In another video, the nanny, who is a mum of three children, said that she treats Alexander like one of her own kids. She explained: “We give him all the hugs and love and attention and everything that he needs so that he can grow. We don’t hold back, he’s spoiled, he’s loved, and played with, and sang to. Just like he was my own kid.”
Since being posted, the original video has racked up more than 113,000 likes and hundreds of comments from people who were heartbroken by the situation. One person said: “This is the saddest situation ever. Poor baby when he has to go to strangers who are his actual family by no fault of their own.”
Another added: “Poor baby. The trauma he is going to go through once he’s away from you. Breaks my heart just thinking about it.”
While another wrote: “So sad his parents are missing his first year of life.”
with the I am going through one of my dwelling too much on the past periods. Having lockdown for a few months and now easing of lockdown rules hasn’t helped either as my concentration levels aren’t good. It doesn’t help not sleeping very well so I’m constantly exhausted but when I go to bed I feel wide awake.
We are going away for a break soon which is a positive and I’m looking forward to seeing family. At least it will be a happier time than last year on our last visit as we were there for our great neice’s funeral. The family knew that she wouldn’t live because of Edward’s Syndrome although she did live for a day but it didn’t make it any easier. This time Bandit will be with us so I am hoping he behaves himself with the children. He likes children with my main worry being him jumping up at the younger ones unless he decides to be shy.
The latest addition, Savanna, was born on the 29th April so I am really looking forward to seeing her. Unfortunately having too much time on my hands it’s given me time to think of my own grief not just because I didn’t raise my son, we no longer talk I will never know my grandson. Unless a mother has gone through illegal adoption it’s impossible to understand the feelings of loss, an invisible amputation and the grief that goes with it. When a baby dies people understand why a mother grieves, can never forget, learns to move forward and learns how to deal with the grief. Adoption is different as the baby lives but the mother is in limbo unless there an open or semi-open adoption in place. I was in limbo for 23 years and my way of ‘copin’ was emotionally shutting down and not talk. Subsequently when I found my son I had to deal with my emotions. Of course the added problem was becoming more depressed than I already was to the point of not eating, sleeping then eventually seeking professional help.
For many years I have suffered from depression – too many years – which became severe when my son was born and I emotionally broke down. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I suffered from depression until many years later and I was suicidal but knew I didn’t really want to die. I believed what I was told, that I was moody, there were people far worse off than me and I didn’t have anything to be depressed about.
Even in my teens, I was prone to suicidal thoughts which I couldn’t understand and I felt guilty for my thoughts. I didn’t have anybody I felt I could trust enough not to say anything about how I felt. Suffering in silence isn’t worth it.
When my son was adopted life really wasn’t worth living for but wanting to kill myself was scarier to deal with. I couldn’t trust anybody as my parents had betrayed my trust. Instead, I put on an act so even now very few people know me 100%. I find it hard to explain how I feel on a daily basis to anybody which is generally feeling extremely low mst of the time.
Not talking about a baby being lost to adoption is a bad idea but it was my way of coping for too many years. When a mother loses her baby to miscarriage, stillborn, or genetic condition people can be supportive even though they don’t understand the (personal) loss. Of course today there are different charities that offer support which is priceless. One of our nieces and nephew-in-law lost their second child to Trisomy 18 (Edward’s Syndrome) when she was a day old. They were well looked after by their midwife and ARC but it doesn’t make the loss any easier. They were given a card with their daughter’s hands and feet imprints on it. They also received a teddy bear with the name of another baby’s name on it and one day parents will receive a teddy bear with their daughter’s name on it.
When it comes to adoption people think it’s wonderful, farting unicorns and in the child’s best interests. In reality, it isn’t and unless the child is at real risk of any type of abuse it’s better to keep the child with his or her mother/father. If the parents die then special guardianship with the child’s family member is the next best thing otherwise with another guardian. I am not completely anti-adoption as there are other ways a child can be raised in safety and retain their name.
What people don’t understand is that when a mother is forced to let her baby be adopted it is loss and the mother suffers for the rest of her life. Her baby is still alive but she will never raise her child. It is a different type of loss to mothers whose babies have died but the result is the same both types of mothers never get over it and just learn to live with the loss.
I lived too many years hiding my pain as I was never offered any counselling so I put on an act. Eventually, I did find my son without actively searching for him when he had just turned 23 years old on Genes Reunited. The rage and pain I actively controlled came out finally but I still mourn the loss of my baby, I will never get him back. My son was shocked I found him without actively searching and had been searching for 5 years. He found my family but at that time my family didn’t know where I was due to a massive argument I’d had with my sister and by this time we had moved. My son was hurt that my parents hadn’t told me they had contact with him for two years when I got back in touch with them. There was absolutely no good reason why they didn’t tell me and the poor excuse was they didn’t know if my husband knew about him. My sister told me they didn’t know where I was so I don’t know what they were telling her – I didn’t have contact with her for 12 years. I didn’t want to fall out with her again as we have got on better since our dad died.
My son and I don’t talk now. We both made mistakes but he won’t accept he was just as much to blame as me when we had disagreements.
I haven’t felt like posting for some time due to COVID-19 and lockdown as each day seems the same. We had one bit of good news though that the latest great-niece, Savanna, was born on the 29th April 2020. Had it not been for lockdown we would have seen Savanna by now as it was my sister and brother-in-law’s 40th wedding anniversary on the 10th May 2020. We will be very happy when travelling restrictions have been lifted.
Tempers have been tested over the past weeks which isn’t helped by the fact that we both suffer from depression. On top of that, neither of us has been sleeping well but it doesn’t help that our normal routine has been disrupted. I am really missing not being able to swim as it helps my joints. Both my shoulders have been constantly aching which also doesn’t help when trying to sleep.
We have also had four new additions as our little Storm has had kittens. They are so cute and it will be at least another four weeks yet before they can be rehomed provided a certain person resists the urge to keep them all – so far it’s only one.
Two days ago one of our nieces had her third child, another daughter, which is lovely news. My sister has found it hard not seeing her grandchildren but now that there is relaxing of the number of people who can be together she had her two granddaughters while their mum was in the hospital. She was able to go home four hours after having her baby. My sister is very happy to cuddle the latest edition.
I still find it tough at moments when a family baby is born as I know each one will be loved equally with all the children. My baby wasn’t even given a chance although I do believe my dad and sister would have loved him. My mum couldn’t even make a pretence of liking my son when he turned up as an adult. I will never, ever forget my mum telling me she didn’t understand why he wanted to know me when his adoptive family was his only family. I was tempted to let rip that his ‘only family’ couldn’t give him medical information, where he got his interests but I knew she wasn’t interested and didn’t want to know either. To this day I can not understand why a mother can be so determined that her daughter’s baby is adopted and then never want anything to do with the child when he / she is an adult. It goes way beyond spite. it’s evil and borders on being a narcissist. It’s something that never really surprised me but it still hurts.
I am thankful we are seeing the light beyond the tunnel with regards to the lockdown as it’s getting more and more stressful not being able to do anything or go anywhere. It’s not that I particularly want to go far it’s more to do with being restricted and not being able to do something different. I’ve started getting back to old hobbies such as writing and sketching. I’ve ‘enrolled’ myself for a year to do passable comic sketching which will be challenging. Now I am just waiting for stuff to arrive so I can get on with it. Wool has come out ag0ain to crotchet basic blankets although I have bought myself a crochet book to teach myself more complicated things.