There’s always light…

I know it’s been an age..no excuse part from life…Just a short note to say I am wishing we all stay safe during this time…I’ve loads to say but my mind keeps wandering..I don’t know if it’s lack of routine or deep fear …I keep reminding myself there will always be light…where there is light the darkness cannot dominate, stay safe people and love the ones you value 🙏

Love Always

Black Sheep xx

Adoptee Conversations

A few weeks ago it was my absolute pleasure to have a chilled out chat with my buddy Scott.He and Al have an amazing Adoption Podcast that I urge you all to tune into..catch up on the previous episodes if you can..they are fascinating and informative.

Scott and I met at an Adoption UK Conference and immediately hit it off. He said he always knew we’d have this kind of convo and he’d struggle to shut me up! #rude Hahaha

Anyway I hate the sound of my own voice and hope you don’t! Bear with me as I ramble on in my warts and all style…

Enjoy..I’d love your feedback…just click on the image and brace yourself!!

Much Love ❤️ Black Sheep

Black Sheep on Adoption, Adopting and Life

Scott chats to BlackSheep

Adoption File Myths

Never underestimate the power of the written word..you know the old adage.”sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!.You know that’s shit right? Words can hurt more than physical violence if aimed correctly.

I speak as I find and often get it wrong BUT there is always something positive to be found behind my words. No harm intended but I hold up my hand if it’s taken wrong

Which brings me to words and phrases used in an Adoption Birth File.

Many of my fellow Adoptees know how words can wound even from days gone by.Past references to our early life can hit us like a knife in the heart. It’s fair to say my life has been blessed but it’s also reality that I’m triggered now more than I ever was as a child.

You know why?? Because now I am old enough to comprehend nuances. Educated well so I understand how to translate the meanings of the shorthand used in the 60s. What was not meant to be read by us is now available in a semi redacted form so as to allow us to piece together the information. The sad truth is we are still not privy to everything..as if we are too fucking fragile to deal with facts ..some not so pretty …we are not given the same right to reply as our non-adopted peers yet the writings on those thin flimsy pages with old-style typeface are veiled as if to protect us. However, and I know many Adoptees will agree, we NEED this information to be whole. To feel complete. To move on and heal. A happy adoptee is a grateful Adoptee. Wrong. A happy adoptee is one with all the facts.

My life is great , I thank fate for that. Choices made for me have been instrumental in making me who I am on the surface.

As I get older I have more questions more uncertainty about whether she had a choice. She said she had no choice. Said with one tot to raise she couldn’t cope with two. Then she met someone new and had another boy who she kept alongside my biological brother. A further girl was given up.

This was news to me and was a serious head fuck when I learned this..but I had a semi reunion with this other sister who was adopted too.

Let me tell you we didn’t hit it off so I don’t regret whatever decision separated us in life.To be kind I’d say she carries her demons on her sleeve. As she felt the need to somehow blame me for her less than perfect adoption and subsequently was an absolute bitch to me. I struggle to be kind. Right royal fucking horror she was in fairness 🤪

Anyway amongst my papers were parts of my early life that no one felt worthy of disclosure. For instance, why would I possibly care whether my birth mother’s child, who she chose to keep, was not two and a half by a different father? He was in fact less than a year old and the son of my biological father

Making the myth of a half-sibling from a mystery one-night stand ,in fact my full blood sibling sharing 100% DNA. Why would the facts matter? Because they fucking do that’s why.

Every time I raised it after learning the facts. My AM dismissed it as if the truth were lies.. simply because “that’s what we were told!” so therefore it’s a lie and the murky tale of promiscuity fits the ideal for my adopters. Paint the picture as less than the middle class and savioury and we can all sleep better? Alrighty then 👌

But it wasn’t a lie. She wasn’t a slag. She was very much driven by her faith and madly in love with the handsome charmer whose DNA I share. Nothing more, nothing less. She fell in love with him…As it seems did several other young women around the same time. She has since told me that he was the love of her life. But she knew she wasn’t prepared to share him..so he broke her heart. It happens. We’ve all been there… Difference is we don’t all have to seek out the facts because someone’s redacted them for “our own good”.

Amongst other things I learned about my early days was one piece of news I still find myself struggling with.

Only almost 6 years ago my birth file revealed that my BM who named me… a name relating to my birthday, had held me close for the first 6 weeks from my birth.
My understanding and the “facts” as told me by my AP (and how they knew this still beats me), were that I was placed straight into foster care before going to live with them at three months young

For convenience the first 6 weeks of my life were conveniently erased.

So I was cuddled, maybe breastfed and held tight to the bosom of my BM for the first 6 weeks of my life…

Yet someone somewhere decided that was unimportant and irrelevant to me. Those who had the control..That information is massive to me now that I’ve got a relationship with her.

Isn’t it funny how titbits of information, unimportant to most have a profound effect on an adoptee in later life?

It makes me cry thinking of how she had to make the gut-wrenching decision to hand me over..I wasn’t a stranger to her. I was her flesh and blood and on paper would never see her gaze into my face ever again.

The language used back then has changed very little. How many non-adopted adults have birth paperwork with huge black squares covering pertinent facts. How is it they are less precious and able to cope with what is considered unpleasantries.

The older I get the more I think I don’t need protection from those who should have shown the same courtesy to my Birth Mother

I recall her telling me she was disowned by her own mother when she became pregnant with me. The second time in the same year. Abandonment by my birth father, her own mother, and brother and by the system too?

And here we are at nearly 50. My fellow Adoptees and I, a generation of 60s babies still trying to fit together the complex jigsaw puzzle pieces scattered across five decades. Some of us believe in the fairytales we were handed by the well-meaning folk who saw our curiosity as fragility. However for others, like me, we continue to seek a truth that lets us rest and accept.

In reunion, we have some answers but the truth is we will never get all of them. And do you know why not?

Because even armed with all the redacted documents in the world, we don’t know all of the questions we need to ask…

Thanks for reading

Much love Black Sheep xxx

Disappointed!! Yet Again

Ok so she hated it! My new shiny Tattoo! Bizarrely that cross look appeared after a long time of not seeing it. I felt about fucking 12 again. Like I’d left my coat on the school bus again and was in for a bollocking.

How does that even happen at nearly 50? I don’t get it. I even caught her googling symbols of random shit assuming the initial to my original birth name was something totally different to the actual letter. Missed the point that her initial being in the middle was meaning she’s the centre of my adoption.

Literally the centre of my world.

I am beyond hurt. Is it a deliberate habit, to dim my shine, to quash that glimmer of happiness that I rarely feel these days?

Is it to make her feel powerful whilst leaving me powerless to defend myself?.

Her remark and sniff of “Well it’s what YOU wanted” worked to cut me again, leave me humiliated. Wounded . I had thought ,no correction, had hoped, stupidly, that she’d get it by now.

Maybe just understand me at last . See I don’t think my adoption is still the phantom elephant in the room. I say phantom because I honestly believe it should be so much more of a secondary thing when it comes to our relationship. But every move I make, every new relationship I make and every memory rehashed seems to reawaken the grief and sorry she made me feel when I initially found my BM. Its just not fair. Its not going away. She still feels threatened by it. I’m angry again. Angry and disappointed. Lets look at the facts and I will make no apology for being blunt..just how I feel right now….

Once upon a time in the late 60’s a white couple with two birth children adopt a black Jamaican blood baby. All live happily ever after…until said black child has the unshakeable need to find her truth. Answers to why, when and what ..questions I guarantee every adoptee on this fucking planet will need to ask. Fast forward to the child becoming an adult and finding birth mother and other blood relatives. Adoptive family reacts with hurtful if partly understandable, jealousy and risk losing said adopted child from their affections. ..the rest is in the lap of the gods

Every time I think my adoption is accepted by my Mother, I’m shocked by the reality. My adoption was something she chose for me, without my say-so and honestly nothing I do is in any way a ‘slight’ aimed at hurting her. It makes me more sad and more tired. Tired of her need for me to show my gratitude, tired of her need for constant reassurance. Tired of wondering if I’m a good and worthy daughter or a totally different girl to the one she wanted…a disappointment.?

To be insecure is one thing but for fucksakes, we’ve done this shit over and over…I love her, nothing has changed..despite the fact she’s making it and has made it hard to stay focused on that love. When faced with clear resentment and disrespect for my own feelings it becomes increasingly difficult to shrug off the hurt I feel at her behavior towards me and my history. If this were any other relationship, a marriage say not even mediation could mend it.Yet I keep on trying Huh!? Do I even need her approval? Or anyone’s? Many adoptees I know say the deep feeling of a need for approval is what eats them up from the inside. Maybe that’s partly true but for me, my hard shell has started to rebuild itself around my heart. It’s sad but true as I cannot allow myself to enter into my half-century with the constant guilt she wants me to feel for “putting her through the pain” of me finding my birthright. I’m more than ready to accept I’ll feel something similar when my boy seeks his truth. But I will help him, I’m prepared for it down the line. I chose to adopt him and he’s living a good and happy life.He is well loved but he has rights as do I.

My BM can’t possibly be a threat. Surely not after 6 years in what must have been an expected reunion. When will it end? The need for me to apologize for what is my god given right. The guilt trip is wearing bloody thin now. She was as hurt at my mother’s reaction to me finding her as I was. I ended up having to support both my mothers as well as myself. It’s all so tiring.

So she hated it but couldn’t help but whisper “when you come on your own we will discuss this thing you described as a “discreet little tattoo !” You see I am 12 again ..My response was “Nope, we won’t, it’s done. The conversation is over. Done.

You see it’s not an issue to me that she doesn’t approve of the tattoo. I could have had a skull and freakin crossbones on my neck if it was a test of her approval. I didn’t. and don’t need her approval for a grown-up decision.

I had a different symbol altogether, a Symbol to honor her, me, my adoption and my BM and it was entirely dismissed and totally lost on her. At that moment I knew we will welcome the adoption elephant back into the room. He’d been lonely, snoozing in the back of that attic room in my head. He is now champing at the bit to stomp through the room at every opportunity. I sense we will be seeing him a lot more now.

So a week on from “Tattoo-gate” or was it Disapproval Day? (D-Day?) I journey up North again to visit BM. Still languishing in her fourth ward within the hospital, she had forgotten I’d rung to say the date I’d be up. As I walked into her shared ward I couldn’t help wonder if she’d know me…silly I know but went through my head as I spotted her there with her head in her trusted Bible. Hearing my wheels on the tiled floor (that was, of course, my case, I’ve not had my legs replaced by wheels you understand!;-)

So she looks up as I approach her bed with a look close to relief and certainly full of love. My cheery smiley “Hiya! comes naturally. In my head I’m screaming “Why the fuck is she still here after nearly 9 months, why haven’t they fixed you!”

Her eyes are wide and watery as we hug, avoiding the white mesh neckerchief protecting her tracheostomy. So we chat…well I do and she listens and mouths words emploring me to translate and understand her. It’s hard but not impossible. Although I realized often an accurate guess of what she’s saying sometimes was enough. Either that or she gave up trying and it was easier to indulge me? On other occasions, she would get so frustrated and anxious to be understood we were both near to tears trying to converse. For a talker, she must think she is literally in hell. It’s too tragic. The tea nurses come round and she makes it clear she wants her own tea bags and instructs me to have the same…Red Bush tea. Cue a flashback to the first time I tried that at her house back in 2012. She even indicates the nurse top up my cup as its apparently not full enough.. they do as told by her and joke that she’s the boss. She turns to me seriously. Makes it clear she’s losing the will with being there. She wants the tube out, wants to go outside and wants to go home.

I explained I will ask if we can go into the garden, a walled area we can both see from her bed. With me on the bed and her in the chair, I ask if we can wheel her out. No is the short reply. Too risky with the tracheostomy. She’s upset. I gather the last time she’s felt the sunshine on her face was the morning of the day she had her Brain hemorrhage. Not breathed real fresh air for nearly 9 months. Fate is too cruel. How she’s retained her faith in Him is beyond me, I tell you. I didn’t tell her that of course.

I’d taken her biscuits and fresh mango. Hard to imagine how she copes with the boredom …she’s a neat freak now, some have said it has been the case since the brain injury, like a symptom. I suspect more out of a need to have some control over some aspect of her shrinking world..imagine a bed, a cupboard and a chair with a wheeled table. That’s her world. Far too small for such a huge personality.

So a few hours romp on broken only by regular aspirations of her tube. It’s clearly painful to cough, you can tell. She often grimaced and her hand shot to her throat to alleviate the pain from the tracheostomy. Poor woman doesn’t really understand that if it were to fall out or dislodge she can’t breathe and could easily die.

Heartbreaking not to hear her voice, having known it so animated in the past. I miss her easy gravelly laughter, her cheeky teasing, our familiar banter.

I’m just so thankful I’m not just finding her now. Imagine the cruel twist of fate that would be… so close yet so far …far from finding my answers. Wouldn’t it be tragic?

So the nurse appears yet again to relieve her throat and I escape to the loo for a little cry. Yet again.

Composed, I return to the chair beside her and realize another lady is sitting there at the end of the bed. In my haste, I think she is one particular friend of hers that I recognize and give her a hug Hello. It’s not the women I thought it was and I feel a right Twat! God only knows what she thought 😚

So it seems this is another good friend I am yet to meet. She introduces herself. I take in her warmth, the super soft grey curls, and chocolatey soft voice. She’s a calming presence at the end of the bed. I can tell they are loving long term friends, I assume wrongly that she’s from the church. “No, I’m just her friend,” she says smoothly.

As time goes on I’m realizing my BM has told very few people about me, but those she has I don’t know until I’m confronted with them face to face.

Awkward!!

Then comes the inevitable question “So who are you to her?!” I look at my BM for inspiration. I don’t know who knows her secrets do I and sadly now she can’t tell me….she gestures to her friend by pointing at me then laying her hands on her chest..several times she does this…the friend remains confused. Well she would wouldn’t she!?

I look at my BM and offer to enlighten her before it gets even more embarrassing…I translate that shes trying to tell her “She is Mine”…not strictly true but the sentiment is clear enough. Her friend looks shocked and surprised at this revelation. Not that close a friend then eh!? Boom! She didn’t see that one coming did she!?!

I explain I was adopted as a baby and found her about 6 years back. There isn’t really anything more to say. She goes “God is Good!” I laugh inside thinking how ironic that sounds given the desperate plight he’s dealt this life long believer. If he was that sodding good none of us would be sat in a hospital ward counting the months. and reeking of antibacterial hand gel. If he were that good she wouldn’t have spent three seasons, a Christmas and a recent Birthday in a fucking hospital ward…just saying…

The lady is excited and moved by this news. For me, it’s just another person I will never see again who knows who I am. Knowing what I know now I suspect my BM will not even recall that this lady knows her innermost secret. And probably only part of it.

You see it would appear that my BM’s comprehension and her retention of memory is quite seriously impaired. You’d never know to look at her. Couldn’t even guess it even without spoken communication. So without my knowing this at that point, I am of the assumption that we are communicating just fine….to a degree. We labor away at trying to guess what she’s saying for so long, that we often fell about laughing at how taxing the simplest statement appeared to be.

The discussion takes on a serious tone, at least between me and this lady friend… I want to know how come so many visitors come and go yet seemingly make no inroads to getting my BM home or at least moving on from this facility. She seems to agree as does my BM but that’s not an answer. I ask specific questions and establish it would seem she has no appointed Social Worker or even a legal rep acting on her behalf. Her official next of kin is her addict son who currently loafs uninvited in her house (alongside her so-called confidante gentleman friend who I met the last visit and since saw off for stalking me!). The elder of the men looking after the other by all accounts….because as you’d expect a 47-year-old with a gout riddled foot and head lice needs looking after!!? Not only can he not walk without two crutches, he couldn’t treat himself for fucking nits…..Way to go half bro!….Give me freaking strength. So you can imagine how confident I am that she was being looked after and that her interests are being considered effectively. NOT!!

Her self appointed proxy Next of Kin is her dear friend, we will call her Sadie here to protect her identity. A capable elderly gentlewoman, PC savvy and by all accounts switched on so I am confident she is a good choice

Both the maternal men-children are unhelpful in the scheme of things . One again enjoying free bed and board thanks to the generous tax payers, the other wallowing in his own self pity..Yet they glean information that I do not …which will change pronto..must start using that infernal password ..the hospital knows who I am now and agree I can be privy to updates. Time to take the horn on that particular bull- shit I reckon.

So I kiss her goodbye until tomorrow and then say how nice it was to meet her friend. I leave to make my way through the 5 miles of corridor to the carpark….take a few wrong turns and at last find daylight to meet my good friend PD, my Manchester ‘man on the ground’.

We hug…its particularly welcomed as I release the tension I’ve been holding in since my arrival. We update and he asks me what I need. A large drink I reply. As luck would have it he needs to take a detour and deliver some of his specialist Prosecco to a nearby bar.

A merry chatty half hour is spent in the cozy country-style pub bar with the staff, A large Shiraz slips down like welcome nectar. We discuss the current football matches in the city that weekend along with the Chinese New Year celebrations. The fact I’d ridden on the top of a double decker at the front for the first time since my childhood..Downside of that being the heaters are blowing out hot air from there and coupled with repeated menopausal hot flashes, I thought I’d melt before I got the see my BM.

I began to relax as we chatted and laughed about other non stressful topics ….or nonsense, whichever you want to call it.

The tensions of the day gradually lift and we wend our way back to his comfortable home for the evening. Easy chat about life with my friend and his lovely gentle wife make for a much needed relaxing evening.

Tomorrow can wait.

With morning comes fresh resolve. I’m armed with a note pad and kick arse inspiration to establish just what the fuck is going on with my BM care, and her future.

As I approach her bed this time no Bible. She is plaiting her hair. The more I see her do normal things the more I can’t fathom why the hell she is becoming institutionalized within the walls of this pioneering Hospital. I say Pioneering as I was told she was in THE best neurology Hospital in Europe. Great, I’m chuffed for her but why the hell is she still here after 9 months if its that freaking

Pioneering!?

l help her with her hair and persuade her that it looks fine. Sadly it really does but not by her exacting standards and I know I am a bad liar. I start telling her my plan. I will write a letter for her to sign, to the Social Services to establish who is her key worker. She is to sign it (I am hopeful) and a nurse is to sign it to show its not from me but is from her.

An hour flies by as we put together the letter. She signs with shaking hand and the first word before her name is lash…then she writes her name almost perfectly. After she asks what the first word is…I laughed that it was what I was on the night before.

It’s sad how I am already used to the silence when I used to hear laughter.

So I then learn from the staff nurse that in actual fact my BM does have a Social Worker and has met her, attended meetings with her and is very much in the system. Not slipped through the cracks of the social system as I’d allowed myself to believe the day before.

So much for the letter. But it was a good exercise for her brain and showed she is able to write her name.

At this point I am given the name and number of the Social Worker, the Occupational Therapist and assured that the doctor will give me chapter and verse on Monday.

She had given me paperwork to photograph and read at my leisure. From these medical documents I see her vocal cords are considered paralysed. Not cheerful reading.

A tearful goodbye and a taxi driver waiting at the wrong entrance and I’m off.

Back at the airport with plenty of time, for once, I relax with a glass of wine and a healthy late lunch of cheesy chips and bacon. I’m happily lost in drama on Netflix when my daughter sends me a frantic Whatsapp to advise her grandmother, my mother in law has slipped on decking and dislocated her shoulder. Imagine the nearby woman’s face when I exclaim “For fucksakes ” like someone with tourettes….

How much more fucking drama can we take..

Anyway she’s fine thankfully, it was put back in and they sent her home for physiotherapy.

I did make contact with the Social worker who at least seems to have a clue how to move her life forward even if it’s into a specialist Trachiostomy care facility. Time will tell as to what is her future. I do hope it’s brighter than it looks from within a hospital ward for four.

Thanks for reading my ramblings 😝

Love Black Sheep xx

Time to Honour my Adoption

It’s been a long time in my mind’s eye but I finally took the plunge…as one of my newly found beautiful sisters said..I’m now an Ink girl!!

So the time has come to take a deep breath and put my big girl pants on…and possibly arm myself with a couple of Tena Ladies?

Why now? Well let’s see ….the last twelve months have rocked and rolled like a bouy bobbing in the Atlantic….it seems around every corner was another drama…The most notable episode was meeting up with my two gorgeous sisters , long lost siblings on my BF side.  As if we’d always been in each others lives, we laughed, chatted non stop without really drawing breath..How three women meeting in the flesh for the first time can bond in an instant and pledge unconditional love and loyalty is a beautiful thing.

A weekend of seeing what makes each other tick ,whilst all the time knowing life would never be quite the same again. Makes me emotional just thinking about it. With onlookers who after learning we were meeting for the very first time, confirmed it was as though we’d known each other years. Biology aside, I am blessed  and can honestly say my siblings both adoptive and by birth are all amazing and easy to love.

The other major drama to hit 2018 was in May. Call it sixth sense but after just a few days of silence and non-responses to messages I just knew in my gut something was wrong.  With my Dads ongoing health issues I’m not immune to  a heightened sense of anxiety when it comes to the possibility of an emergency. But this was different, I felt a nausea that rumbled low in my tummy every time the phone rang out or my texts were left hanging…like I was being ignored but not in a mean way..but as a warning bell. My instincts were right. My BM had suffered a near fatal brain haemeorrage and remains unable to speak or breath without a tube ever since. Its truly heart breaking.

My relationship with my Mother is the best it has been in as long as I can remember. Helped by a shared understanding of what it means to raise an adopted child, coupled with a mutual respect, now the dust has settled… as well as the same emotional bond to my Dads plight.

All of these issues and other more minor, had an impact on my mental and emotional wellbeing and as a result the fear of a tattoo was outweighed heavily by the need to mark this chapter in my life.

So with my daughter filming the event for her Vlog, and in the company of the eldest of  my new found younger Sisters we settled ourselves around the Tattoo artist. I braved myself having heard horror stories of horrific pain.

As I’d told myself nothing could be like the pain of labour , how bad could it be? In short it was like being scratched badly with a blade on the straight bits and gauged with a razor blade with the colouring in…to be fair if someone caused that sort of pain without it being to create something pretty, I would have had to punch them in the neck.

So I’m not gonna lie, I was pleased when it ended and pinching my own finger to defer the pain was losing its appeal..

So the end result is a beautiful tribute to my Mother and my Birth Mother. It is exactly as I’d dreamed it would be..simple, yet complex amd where I can control who sees it and who doesnt.

I know I’ll have another…and already know what that will be…

For now I’m riding out the slight itchy scabbing but know it’s what I needed to do and at the right time..

My confession to my Mother who is yet to see my body art , was interesting.

I told her I had something to show her…she immediately said You’ve never got a tattoo!? No one I know could have told her..the assumption was it would be obvious and out there! I explained she was on it…as an initial you understand ,not in a creepy “image of your face” kind of way!

I assured her it was a great tattoo and she’d like it as it was meaningful and summed up what she means to me and how I value and honour my adoptive status as her daughter. She sounded moved and that choked my throat so we moved on…

My nearest and dearest love it, sadly my little man calls it ‘Mummy’s Baddie’ thinking I’ve been wounded in someway..I correct him with ‘Mummy’s Tattoo’ means nothing to him of course but in fairness it is for him too..Adopting him in one of my best and proudest achievements…I feel sad for those who see any negative in his adoption and not because of their own experiences of it..I mean those in my own circle who chose to view it as something wrong in the world..Unsaid bigotry is a terrible thing and I know we’ve done a good thing here. With his big brown eyes looking worriedly at my arm as if he can make it better…I say to him ” Look what we have here baby boy, one day I  hope you will want to have the same symbol in honour of your adoption too…once we get past the “I hate you, you’re not my mum!” stage that is 😊

For those who don’t know the Symbol of adoption..or who need a slap for not reading my previous posts…

The triangle represents the three main characters involved..both the birth mother and the adoptive mother and the adoptee and all are enveloped in the heart representing love. I’ve added all our initials and favourite flowers .That is it..simple yet truly loaded with all I hold dear..

I hope you like it..

Thanks go to Rob Daliftkid Lawrence at Inkwa Tattoo London,

https://inkwatattoos.co.uk

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Thanks for reading

Much love

Black Sheep xxx
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