I gave in to pressure

Let me start at the beginning. I was born in February 1954 and was the eldest of 2 brothers and a sister. Everything was fine until I hit puberty when I started getting stroppy and angry with the fact that my friends seemed to have much more freedom than me.

I started skipping school and running away from home etc. Then at the age of 13 I found out that I was pregnant. This was in 1968.

By this time Social Services were already involved and it was decided that I should go to a school in another town, and move on again to have my baby in yet another town.

I was sent to a convent school in Newcastle, then about 2 months before my baby was due, I was sent on to a mother and baby home in Wales.

In October 1968 I gave birth to a baby girl. I never knew how you gave birth, I was never told. I thought that they put you to sleep and did an operation to get the baby out. What a shock I had when I found out! To make matters worse she was breech and weighed 9lbs 10oz.

I was put in a side room on the ward to recover and was not allowed to see my baby for 3 days. When they finally brought her to me, I was so filled with love and awe that I didn’t want to let her out of my sight.

The nurses showed me how to change her nappies, feed and bathe her. We stayed in the hospital for 12 days, then went back to the mother and baby home where I had to look after her 24/7 for 6 weeks.

My love for her grew stronger and stronger, and my heart was aching as the time approached for us to leave the home and travel back to Newcastle.

On the way we stopped in Sunderland, where a foster mother took my baby. To say I was heartbroken is an understatement, I sobbed and sobbed all the way back to Newcastle.

Every night I would wake up ready to feed and change my baby, but she was not there. I cried again and again.

Two weeks later a man from Social Services came to see me and without explaining, told me to sign some papers. I asked and asked what the papers were for, until he finally told me that they were for my daughter’s adoption. I refused to sign them as I wanted to keep her.

By this time I was 14 years old.

For two weeks I refused to listen to reason. My own mother wouldn’t even acknowledge my daughter. My dad was upset, although kinder and wanted to keep her too – but Mum refused. In the end I gave in to pressure.

Every day since then I have wondered and cried at my loss, because that is what it feels like – a big part of me is missing and can never be replaced.

I hope that one day she will find me and forgive me, and has a happy life.

I do hope that she is still on this earth – that is my one biggest fears, that something may have happened to her and I would never know.

Other mothers who have had to give up their child will understand what I went through, as I understand them.

Vanessa Tallon

© Vanessa Tallon 2008

Sadly, Vanessa passed away in September 2011, before she was reunited with her daughter.