I blame Karl Marx

The Gallows Bird is a historical trilogy I have coming out next year. There, we meet Mr Fingleston, a silk merchant and tailor.

The character of Mr Fingleston visited me in the early hours, over 20 years ago. I described him as an ivy bush of a man, small and messy with a moustache drooping below his chin.

The timing is important.

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We're not your real parents

There’s a cartoon doing the Internet rounds. A mum and a dad look down at their little girl: “Sarah, I’m afraid we’re not your real parents. You were made with sperm from Germany and an egg from Denmark from an Italian man and a Swedish woman, born to an English surrogate, rejected because you were a girl, adopted by Californian lesbians, looked after by a Cuban nanny and found by Derek here in a skip when you were three”.

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Barbara Sumner
A selfless act?

While browsing Instagram, an image jumped out at me. A woman and her husband stand beside the bed of an exhausted mother who has given birth to twins. The woman, identified as the #IP (intending parent) has her hands clasped in prayer or gratitude. Her husband is leaning over looking as exhausted as the new mother.
Posted by a surrogacy agency, the photo features the photographer’s comments. (Yes, the IPs hired a photographer to cover the event.)

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I'm So Special

How special do you feel? What factors make up your sense of special – or otherwise?
Many adopted people remember being told they were ‘special.’  “We chose you,” is a standard phrase for adopted people.
At the same time, it is implied there is no difference between you and the non-adopted.
The law backs this up, stating the child is “as if” born to the adopters.

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Who Owns You?

Who owns you? Have you ever asked yourself this question?
If you are a non-adopted person then the idea that someone could own you may never have occurred to you.
If you are an adopted person, you may not be aware of the terms of your adoption. Or how current adoption laws resemble sale and purchase agreements.
I had this lesson rammed home last week.

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Dear Toni Street

Dear Toni Street
Congratulations on the arrival of your child born through a surrogate. I have read of your frustration at the hoops you must jump through to now adopt him.
Thank you for lending your profile in support of a petition to update the Adoption Act 1955. By doing so, you are raising awareness of the inadequacies of this act.

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Why I hate biographies

I have a friend who loves biographies. She’s always telling me to read accounts of dire lives turned around, the fall and rise of a star or a tragedy overcome.
But I can’t. Biographies and especially autobiographies unsettle me. It is not the sweep of grand lives that leaves me undone. It is the minutiae.

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What more do you want?

I’ve spent most of my adult life searching for my biological family. I've encountered endless roadblocks. The majority of them from officialdom. During the search and now as I start a campaign to free all adoption files, I am often asked - what do you want?
But as an adopted person I know that often what people are really asking is -  what more do you want?

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Like a Stranger

There once was a woman who kept changing everything: her hair, her glasses, her furniture, her style, her husbands and her lovers. She moved 34 times and changed her name seven times. Her restless journey was almost unconscious. She described herself as emotionally and physically peripatetic. The idea of not belonging was who she was. It was not so much that she had lost her identity, but that she never had one.

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Letter to Jacinda

Dear Prime Minister
Your child is almost three months old. I was this age when I was taken from my mother because of her marital status.
Or, it could have been earlier.
Or later.
I don’t know because I have three possible birth dates, seven months apart and two birth certificates.

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