I was 16 when I found out I was pregnant. I was so naive that I never realized it until I was 6 months along. I was very shocked. My parents were even more shocked–how I ever managed to tell them I don’t know. They were very religious and Victorian in their ways. My boyfriend was the only one who stood by me.

When I was in labor I was sent to a hospital in another town. I was left at the “doorstep,” with a note to say I was to have no anesthetic; my parents’ hope of teaching me a lesson. I had never been so frightened in my life. My boyfriend was not allowed anywhere near the hospital. I was told by a very unfriendly staff member that once the baby was born, it would be taken away so that I would not get a chance to bond with it. I cannot tell anyone–unless they have experienced it–how absolutely awful that was.

I had a perfectly healthy baby girl and I got a quick glimpse of her before they took her away. I was devastated. The vicar then arrived, apparently sent by my mother to rid me of my sins!

As soon as I left the hospital and met with my boyfriend, we decided to do everything possible to get our baby back. We tried Social Services in several different towns in the hope of having her fostered for a year until we sorted ourselves out, but they all said, “No.” I asked my parents but that was a definite no. My boyfriend’s parents wanted to keep her. We agreed, but again my parents stepped in and said no. I was under 18, and did not have any rights or any say in the matter.

After 5 weeks we managed to find a private foster mother, and I held my little girl for the first time. She was gorgeous. I spent every moment I could with her, but after 4 months the foster mother asked me if I could have her at home on weekends so that she would get more used to me. I agreed; my parents said no.

The foster mother and my moral welfare officer said there was no choice but to have our baby adopted. We tried to get her out of the country but we did not have a passport for her. We were brought straight back again. Eventually, when she was 8 months old, we lost her completely. I was told that if I did not sign the adoption papers, my boyfriend would be taken to court for underage sex and I would be put in a home for uncontrollable children. She was taken from my arms at court. My boyfriend and I were in such as state, as was his family.

Each year on her birthday, we lit a candle.

Her father and I eventually married, but then divorced. We remain friends to this day, even though we are on other ends of the globe. One reason we remained friends was the shared hope of one day finding our daughter.

Each year on her birthday, we wrote to all the authorities involved and asked if any policy had changed with regard to searching for adopted people. I started a book and put every piece of paper relating to the adoption in it. Every search. Every researcher who helped me or tried. Over the years the book just got bigger and bigger.

I had been searching for 25 years.  Last year I received a call from Norcap (an adoption organization I registered with) saying they were prepared to help me search.  And they did help me. In the meantime, my daughter was also searching. Remarkably enough, she wrote to me on the same day that a letter was being sent to her; they crossed in the post. When I read the letter, I was stunned. I never thought it would happen to me. I read lots of reunion stories but never thought I’d get to experience one. I guess my perseverance (and borderline obsession) with the search paid off.

In September I met my daughter for the first time! We are like two peas in the same pod. We think alike, speak alike, and have the same sense of humor. Everything is the same, except our looks. She looks just like her father, who is also over the moon at our reunion. He emails her but has yet to meet her.

Now everything is beautiful. My limb is back! It was not a smooth road.  It was pretty rocky at times, and the pain of adoption will be with us for the rest of our lives. Sometimes I want to see her more, and be more involved in her life than she wants me to be. She has her own family now. I am happy with seeing her whenever she wants.

To all those searching, keep going. In my opinion, adoption can be very cruel to some of us. When someone dies, you grieve and come to terms with it eventually. But when a child is taken for adoption against your will, and you are not allowed to know whether the child lives or not, you can grieve but you can never come to terms with it.

Best part of all? She calls me MUMMY.