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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 November 2006, 14:11 GMT
Meeting the mother who gave him up
By Thelma Etim
BBC News

Author Jonathan Rendell, who was adopted as a baby and later traced his birth mother, has warned against youngsters "romanticising" about being reunited with their natural parents after a report revealed adopted children want more information about their birth family.

A child
A study has revealed adopted children feel "badly informed" about their past

It took dogged determination and six weeks of searching through telephone directories before Mr Rendell finally found the details for one of two half-brothers, who would later lead him to his natural mother Marianne.

"When I contacted my half-brother he said: 'Mum's been waiting for this call for a long time,'" said 42-year-old Mr Rendell.

When the writer decided to embark on his quest to discover more about his identity, he was 35, a father-of-three, and battling to stop his marriage collapsing.

It was only when he found himself standing on a cold platform at Ipswich station, having missed three trains to Reading where his mother lived, that he realised the enormity of what he was about to do.

"I stood there on the platform thinking, 'What are you doing?'

"Now I am not a great crier, it was very unexpected but I found myself weeping in the carriage as I travelled there.

"When I first met her it was very natural, we hugged, I got into her old Renault and we later went for drink.

"I went headlong into a fantasy of, 'This is my mother.'"

My actual physical arrival in her life was too much for her to cope with
Jonathan Rendell

By the time he tracked down Marianne - not her real name - she was in her 50s.

His mother was a 19-year-old secretary living in Oxford when she fell pregnant by Mr Rendell's father, a history undergraduate who later denied paternity.

"There was a stigma in those days in being unmarried," said Mr Rendell, who now leaves near Newmarket.

He added: "She said, 'I have been a terrible mother.'

"I firmly believe my appearance had a seismic effect on my real mother.

"My actual physical arrival in her life was too much for her to cope with.

"I think it is right to say that some women have the desire to have children and there are some women who do not have a maternal instinct."

He believes the rights of everyone involved should be safeguarded, along with the adoptive child's.

"One has to respect everyone's feelings. You have to balance the rights of everyone - the child, the adoptive parents and the natural parents.

'Pain of rejection'

"I decided not to tell my adoptive parents I was going to look for my real mother - I was thinking of their feelings.

"I could not think what they would get out of it but a sense of betrayal on my part.

"Adoption comes down to the whole question of identity," he added.

"At 16, I went to Somerset House to find my birth certificate but it was not there because my mother held on to it, which made it difficult to trace her."

As Mr Rendell got to know Marianne, her husband became jealous of their relationship and he encountered many more problems connected with their reunion.

He also discovered that she had considered aborting him.

There was also the pain of rejection when his father refused to reply to any of his letters.

"There is the fragility of identity but your curiosity has to be satiated," Mr Rendell said about the experience.

"However, it does bring to the surface emotions you did not know you had."


SEE ALSO
'I have always known it'
21 Nov 06 |  UK
Adoptive homes sought for boys
03 Nov 03 |  Northamptonshire
Move to tackle adoption crisis
25 Mar 03 |  England
Adoption law reforms considered
11 Sep 03 |  Scotland
Computers to speed up adoption
07 Aug 01 |  Health
The long road to adoption
25 Apr 00 |  UK News

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