In this month’s PAC-UK guest blog Elle Brooke writes about the heartbreak caused through the forced adoption of her great grandmother’s first-born son.
My great grandma was a contented woman. She would smile, chomp on her crunchy ham salad sandwich without a care in the world and watch adoringly on her family. Her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She would take me shopping with her to the supermarket and allow me to have my own shopping basket for my own goodies. Not because she had much but because she wanted me to have what I could. She was thoughtful and upon purchasing me the book I desired, wrote a word or two in there for me.
She had been with my great grandfather most of her life, from a very young age. My great grandma’s parents didn’t think that her choice of man was good enough or suitable in any way and did all they could to keep them apart. I struggle to understand the belief that health and love come beneath reputation and wealth but that was what ruined the rest of her life. Her lover wasn’t from a wealthy area or an affluent family, didn’t have the best career or job in the world but dedicated his life to what he did and had promised his heart to the woman he loved. That wasn’t enough for my great grandmother’s family but it was enough for me.
On one or more occasion, they had a big argument and my grandma left to go back to her mothers, trying to distance herself from lover’s conflict but could never stay away or be separated long term from her soul mate. As time went on, as lovers usually plan to do, they got married and had an acute but glamorous wedding in their young twenties. The pictures to me, show two young people in love. Two lovers who craved to feed their love in private rather than put a show on and pretend to be happy with all those people surrounding them. That continued for the rest of their life together and I feel incredibly gratified to have been a small part of that.
My grandma over the course of a few years had 3 baby girls, all with deep blue eyes and brunette hair. All so different in personalities but all conceived by two people so connected who had fought to be where they were. A house in a small familial village with a huge secret garden, a loving family blossoming by the day. A house that is now empty and was recently sold. A house that I struggle to go past; knowing that a full lifetime was lived there and now that no longer exists.
She had such dedication to go and work at that bingo club down the road or the chocolate factory and to joke about the grumpy husband who softened at the children and drank tea in his large chair. Everyday life sucks you into its routine and the little things in life bring the most pleasure. Like that of listening to the radio, reading your books or going to the local library or having an alcoholic beverage in a lovely beer garden. Playing noughts and crosses with your granddaughter. I was that granddaughter who bloomed under that hearty attention from the one woman that I looked up to most. A basic but happy life.
Amidst that daily happiness of a simple life, a pain so deep that you question if its real or not, ate away at the middle of her heart. A hatred for her mother was feeding itself within her gut and an anger at the world must have lived in her mind. The look exchanged between two lovers who wonder if they’re thinking of the same thing at the same time. Out of the blue. The wonder at the silence that my grandad plunged himself into, solitary and longing for something. Thinking of everything or nothing, I never really knew.
Everything looked so wholesome but there was one thing that was missing. One person that was missing completely. One person created, taking qualities from his mother and his father, those qualities that none of his blood related family know anything about. Formed from a love worth fighting for. It was their first born. Their baby boy and only boy.
There’s a lot that I don’t know despite having a lot to ask but nobody to put the questions forward to. Both have passed but their children still live and have something missing too. It’s a mystery to us whether that adopted child knows he is adopted or whether he’s even alive anymore.
I have never had any doubts and anyone who knew my grandmother hasn’t either, I’m sure, of whether she was capable of loving and giving a child everything they could possibly need and more. She did it for her other 3 babies and the rest of babies that followed through them. She got less than one week with her new-born baby before he was taken from her affectionate arms. Yes, she’s gone, and it was over 60 years ago, but that inner scream still sounds in my head and the desperation of being able to do nothing grabs at my soul.
If the act of giving birth to your son and him being almost instantly taken away isn’t enough, the pure betrayal from the person who gave birth to yourself is enough to pierce one’s trust and hope in humanity. One’s own mother. Doesn’t a mother know how it would feel or doesn’t she care? Keeping up appearances in public society is more important than a heartache for life.
There are so many more in the same predicament today and will be in the future, despite my grandmother’s story happening decades ago.
Written by Elle Brooke: Twitter @lbwakey
Post blog Q&A with Elle
Q1: Why do you think they never spoke of their loss?
I think my great grandmother and granddad never spoke of their loss due to the ache it caused in their hearts. Maybe they didn’t want to transfer that ache to the younger members of the family or simply didn’t want to revisit the past. I think it's a possibility that even though her mother wasn’t around, that fear of being forced to do something which tore you apart was still a prominent feeling.
Q2: Why do you think the other children didn’t talk about their adopted older sibling?
My grandmother started to talk about her lost brother when I began to get older. Because it’s a difficult thing to grasp, I think it was wise. My grandmother doesn’t know much about technology or the options to trace family trees or find lost family members and so I believe it feels like a lost cause to her and her siblings.
Q3: What might be the impact on your family if he did come and find you all - what do you hope for?
I would certainly hope for knowledge of his life. To know he was still alive, had a happy life and family or it was at least fulfilled. It would arouse so many emotions to see another product of my great grandmother and grandfathers love which has been there the whole time.
PAC-UK has an Access to Adoption Records, Searching and Intermediary Service. Our experienced researchers can usually trace birth family members and we can make intermediary contact with them on your behalf giving a better chance of a good outcome and giving you support through this emotional process.
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