The Past is a Foreign Country


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Study Abroad.”

If you were asked to spend a year living in a different location, where would you choose and why?

If I could spend a year in the ‘country’ of the year of my birth. In the company of my birth parents at the time they gave me up for adoption. I would see my parents for the confused and frightened young people that they were. I would see that they had problems that they couldn’t face – and that I wasn’t at fault.

They say travel broadens the mind. I think this is a journey that I need to make in my own mind.



At home I knew it was there, my file.
I would walk past the room with the desk with the drawer
My history slightly creased.

A lifetime of avoidance
A moment of acceptance
At last I held it
No longer fantasy, a princess? a hero?
Interest had seemed disloyal to mum and dad
Now nobody could see the feigned indifference

Envelope innards, so few?
Why not a telephone directory of detail in small print.
My life on these scraps.
Typewriter ink on paper.
Signatures of my blood.
Dont do it!
‘I give this child away’

This is for Writing 201:Poetry
Prompt – Drawer
Device – Apostrophe

The start of my story..

The story

I’m no good at history, politics or sport.
The family that adopted me enjoyed all three.
I grew up with interests in music, physics, education and love to argue. I tried to fit and did fit, but couldn’t be the same as the people in my family around me. My adoptive family brought me up and treated the whole issue of adoption very sensitively and openly

Years passed – more than I care to disclose.
I’m not interested in my birth family.
I’m not interested in my birth family.
I’m not interested in my birth family.

More years passed.

I had an intense conversation with a friend one day…….. I was adamant….. Look if someone gave me an envelope with all the information about my birth family in it, of course I’d rip it open and read it. But I’m not going to go looking for it.
3 weeks later my mother came to stay and gave me an envelope – with all the birth family information in it.
You never want to talk about this, never have, but I must give you this information, do what you want with it, but now it is yours.

I feigned disinterest until she left the room – then ripped it open.

My whole life I’d lived with a blurred image of my birth parents, names, occupations and now, clarity, truth facts.

The facts…at the time of my birth – when I was adopted

Father – physicist
Mother – training to be a primary school teacher

All this time, education….. physics…… nature/nurture ……

My head was full of questions –
Were either of them alive still.
Did they stay together at all, a bit.
Do I have any half brothers or sisters ?

Nerdy advanced google search later….. found a family tree.
Given the rareness of their names – I could be confident that it was who I was looking for.

There is was.
A family tree on a genealogy page.
Mother – my birth mother
Father – my birth father
Three other children – my birth siblings.

Further searches confirmed this family was real, had a real address.
My birth mother and birth father were still alive, had stayed together all this time.
They had 3 other children after me they all grew up without me.

Facebook search –
OMG faces that looked like mine. A lifetime of looking like nobody.

Went back to the family tree website
A button – “If you think you a related to this family click here to make contact”

What followed.
Well that’s all another post.