Adoption UK is publishing extracts from a series of poignant letters, written by adoptees to their Mums, ahead of this year’s Mother’s Day (31st March).

For most of us, Mothering Sunday is a simple annual event to celebrate Mum.

It’s a day that has special resonance for adoptive Mums and their children.

Around three-quarters of children who are adopted today will previously have suffered abuse or neglect with their birth family so parenting them can be tough but also hugely rewarding and inspiring.

The bond between adoptive parents and their children is often extraordinary, with love and admiration on both sides.

But Mother’s Day is a celebration which can prove complicated as adopted children have complex feelings about their birth parents.

From that first moment that you looked into my eyes we finally had what we both needed: a family

Adoption UK wants to celebrate adoptive Mums across the UK by shining a light on their commitment, love and resilience - and who better to provide this testimony than adoptees themselves?

In a letter to her adoptive mother Jane, university worker Polly, who lives in London but grew up in Yorkshire and Lancashire, writes: As an adopted daughter I came to you with a warning label – I was not thriving. I was expected to have educational and emotional difficulties. Before you were even able to hold your baby in your arms, you had been told that your baby was broken.

This didn’t matter to you. From that first moment that you looked into my eyes we finally had what we both needed: a family. You devoted every second of your life from that day to fixing what you had been told by professionals might be unfixable. Against every expectation I didn’t just begin to thrive, I began to achieve.

Polly’s letter continues: I could not be even a fraction of the person I am today without your love, dedication and incredible belief in me. All the best parts of me, of my character and my personality, are down to you and and the great example you have always set for me.

Her letter concludes: Thirty-seven years on, that baby who was not thriving has a Master’s degree, a job in a university, a wonderful husband; she has travelled to five continents, sung in the Royal Albert Hall and even dabbled in stand-up comedy.

There are no secrets between us. No problem I’m afraid to share

Megan Alston, from London, aged 19, writes to her mother Regina: You’re my Mum you lie with me until I fall back to sleep after I’ve had a nightmare. There are no secrets between us. No problem I’m afraid to share.

You might have missed my first word and you didn’t get to see me take my first steps, but those aren’t the things that make you my mother. It’s the way you call me when I’m home late, make soup for me when I’m poorly. One day I hope I can adopt too and give my children the wonderful life you’ve given me.

Daniel Coole,from Cheshire, writes to his adoptive mother Jan: Mother’s Day is a stark reminder for some of us. But then, you remember that something incredible happened when you were at the most vulnerable stage of your life. In walked somebody who cares for you, who protects you and who nurtures you, and the best part of it all? It was all by choice.

A mum is the person we reach out for when we fall over. It’s the face we search for in the crowd during the school plays. It’s the taxi driver who just wants to make sure we get to our destination safely. It is the person who knows us better than we know ourselves. 

Thank you for putting up with me through the more challenging times

Daniel goes on to write: Thank you for giving up a part of your world to ensure that I could have the best shot at this thing called life. Thank you for showing me the way every time I get lost on this journey. Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you for being so brave and selfless to ensure that I was happy and safe. Thank you for allowing me to grow into my own person whilst cheering my triumphs from the side-lines.

The letter ends: I am sorry for the times I told you that you could never be my mum. It was never about you or your parenting skills. It was about me being confused and frustrated. You always have been, and you always will be, my mum.

In a letter to her mother Jane, the West End performer Shona White, who lives in London but grew up in Fife, Scotland, writes: …what you (and Dad of course) did for me all those years ago was the best thing that ever happened to me.

You have supported me in all my hopes and dreams and helped me achieve success in my chosen career and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Thank you for putting up with me through the more challenging times and for all the happy memories we have created together.

I owe you everything and I love you with all my heart

Olympic Silver Medallist and Former World Champion Jamie Baulch,from South Wales, writes to his mother Marilyn: Words can’t describe how amazing you are. You have helped me throughout the whole of my life. You have given me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I weren’t with you. You have guided me throughout my whole life. My athletics career would never have happened if it wasn’t for your support, love, guidance and attention. I owe you everything and I love you with all my heart.

And BMX champion and Hollywood actor John Buultjens who grew up in Glasgow and Dundee but now lives in California, writes to his mother Marianna: To say you have been such an inspiration in my life, is an understatement, you are so much more. I am very thankful that you choose me to be your son, back in 1982.

Around three-quarters of children who are adopted in the UK today will have entered the care system because of the severe neglect and/or abuse they experienced with their birth parents.

Adoption gives these children, many of whom have complex needs, a second chance of experiencing enduring family relationships.

Adoptive parents provide stability, permanence, a new sense of identity and the love and nurture that all children need - as these letters eloquently demonstrate.

Adoption UK's purpose is to give voice to adoptive families and to ensure that the right support is there for them. Anyone experiencing difficulties is urged to become a member of Adoption UK and contact our helpline: https://www.adoptionuk.org/one-one-support/helpline

 

Pictures captions for photos below:

Top row, left to right: Polly on graduation day with her adoptive mother; Daniel with his adoptive mother; John Buultjens with his adoptive mother; Megan on holiday with adoptive mum Regina.

Middle row, left to right: Polly as a a baby with her adoptive mother; Shona with her adoptive mother; Jamie with his adoptive mother; Shona, as a baby, with her adoptive mother, Megan as a toddler.

Bottom row,  left to right: Jamie as a baby; John as a young boy with his adoptive father; John as a toddler; Polly at Bradford City FC with her adoptive father.  

     polly_grad   Danielwithmum      johnbandmum     Megan and Regina
 

          polly_baby    shona  Jamie and Mum large  image001  Meganastoddler

 
    Jamie B baby John & Dad Edinburgh 1984john toddlerPolly Penter pic 5 (at the match with her adoptive father)

 

 Biographies

Jamie Baulch was adopted as a baby 45 years ago due to the stigma of being a mixed race baby born to a white, single mother. Jamie was born in Nottingham, but raised by his adoptive parents in Risca, near Newport, Wales. 

The former British sprint athlete won the 400 metres gold medal at the 1999 World Indoor Championships – and as a member of British 4 x 400 metres relay teams, won a gold medal at the 1997 World Championships, and silver at the 1996 Olympic Games.

In 2016 Jamie made a TV documentary for the BBC Being Jamie Baulch: The Search for My Birth Dad, in which he goes in search of his biological father, who he believes to be Jamaican, and the source of his speed. In a previous Bafta Cymru-winning BBC documentary Jamie Baulch: Looking For My Birth Mum (clip below), Jamie went on an emotional journey looking for his birth mother. In the end he found her, met with her for the first time and showed her his athletics medals. 

 

Actor, author and BMX superstar John Buultjens grew up in Glasgow where he experienced violence at the hands of his birth father and was placed in care aged seven. He suffered burns after being thrown in a fire and was knocked out by his father during one attack.

After being placed in care on Christmas Eve, John was fostered at the age of ten and his foster parents went on to adopt him.

After being adopted, John became a professional BMX rider and he is now the global brand manager for Haro BMX Bikes in 80 countries around the world. He wrote an account of his amazing yet turbulent life in his book, Ride. In 2018, he stars in a film of the same name produced by ESX Entertainment. In this big budget production – filmed in California – John plays his abusive father.

 

Megan Alston was four when she was placed with her adoptive parents Regina and Andrew in 2004.

Megan had suffered neglect in their birth family.

Now aged 19, Megan works as a customer support executive. 

 

Daniel Coole was relinquished by his birth mother after she failed to bond with him throughout her pregnancy.

After spending some time living with his grandparents, he later moved in with his auntie and uncle in October 1994, who were granted legal guardianship of him.

Now aged 25, Daniel was approached in 2017 to write a novel based loosely on his life. 

 

Polly Penter was adopted at three months old. Her birth mother was a victim of circumstance with a very disruptive background — an on-off relationship with a violent partner, no job, and some mental health difficulties.

It wasn't until the third decade of life that Polly had any contact with her birth parents. She also didn't know she had a brother until he found her online. Polly now has a relationship with her birth mother and brother. 

Polly describes herself as a ‘poster child for adoption’ as she had a happy childhood, is now blissfully married, has a job she loves and adores her vibrant life in London. She works at a university where she is a member of senior management and is also a stand-up comedian.