I’ve been fascinated by the Long Lost Family TV programmes on people abandoned as babies – one was found in a wooden box with two tins of corned beef – who grew up in loving foster or adoption homes and yet were troubled by not knowing the circumstances of their births. Rejection as your first experience of the world must be hard to deal with. It follows you into adulthood, like a sick dog and can’t be left behind. I was struck by the importance with which the moment of separation from their mother needed to be remembered; one, wrapped in a pink shawl, must, she felt have been loved. Another, revisiting the site of the public toilets where she was left, could visualize her mother crossing the road with a bundle in her arms and felt her mother must have heard her crying several streets away after she left her. Heartbreaking stuff. They all needed to know that the reason they were abandoned was not their fault, but to do with poverty and family circumstances. Fathers rarely got a mention in the programme, neither did the word ‘love’ in relation to them.
As a one-time foster parent myself and mother of three now adult children, I feel more and more the importance of biological connectedness. That recognition, based on scent? body language? appearance? enables people to ‘click’ even when they had been strangers until they met. There’s some aspect to this that needs further exploring. With the abandoned babies, that connection is cast aside, but we have no idea yet what the consequences might be.