Family Events


Old Herts

How To


There are real difficulties is finding out about adoptions, and indiscreet enquiries can cause problems if you don't understand the vast changes there have been to the English approach to sex over the last 100 years.

Towards the end of the 20th century it was decided to close the old Victorian long-stay mental hospitals and, where possible, move the patients back into the community. This involved reviewing each case in turn, and it was found that the only reason that some women had spent 50 or more years incarcerated in a mental hospital was that they had an illegitimate child and were effectively locked away for life to avoid bringing shame on their families.

In fact 50 years ago there were virtually no "unmarried mothers" apart from respectable widows. Girls may have vanished for a few days for an illegal back street abortion or for a few weeks to "no-one claimed to know where" and returned under the pretence that nothing had happened. One thing that was made quite clear to them was that NOTHING HAD HAPPENED and that they would be expected to live out that pretence for the rest of their lives to avoid bringing shame on the family. It is important to realise that the idea that an unmarried mother should actually keep the child not an option open to the majority, however heartrending the separation was. In the majority of cases the mother's subsequent life has been built around an imposed lie and the child was adopted, or sent to a children's home, under a veil of absolute secrecy.

Today many of the old taboos are down and children are told that they are adopted, and many want to contact their natural mother - something that would had been inconceivable 50 years ago. In England the procedure is that the adopted child who wants to contact their natural mother makes an approach through the adoption society, or the local social services in the area where they were born, and these bodies make discrete enquiries. This includes approaching the mother confidentially to hopefully pave the way to allowing mother and long lost child to renew contact. In very many cases there can be happy reunions - because the original taboos have fallen away - and the mother is delighted to know what happened to her child.

However it is important to realise that the mother may be as much a victim as the child - which is why it is appropriate to recognise her privacy is at least as important as the child's wish to know. Publishing details of "her shameful secret" on the internet without even warning her may well be very hurtful and hence counter-productive.

The policy of this site is not to publish details of living people - apart from people who are known to be interested in local or family history. For this reason no information will be posted in the case of adoptions where to do so might cause distress to the living.

If you are having hit a brick wall in relation to an illegitimacy you may find the answer to HORN, Little Gaddesden, late 18th, early 19th century helpful.

Spring Clean June 2006