Nobodys Child



100 in stock


By Anna C Young

ISBN: 978-1-84747-406-3
Published: 2008
Pages: 120
Key Themes: neglect, disability, abuse, parenting, care homes, courage, determination, success


The night I was conceived Norma, my biological mother, was at a party and met the man who would be my father but whom I would never meet, and about whom I would eventually discover only the barest facts. That is all she can remember of the event, or so she has told me on the few occasions when I have plucked up the courage to enquire about it.

My official files, which are the only means I have of finding out who I might be, tell me that he was a Pakistani called Khan. My mother has never plucked up the courage to mention that fact. I suspect that interracial relationships were something of an embarrassment to a working class girl at the time. The Sixties might have been swinging in London, but I doubt very much if they were in the suburbs of Manchester. I was also later made to feel that having an Asian father was in some way shameful.

Norma was old enough to know better than to get pregnant by accident. She was twenty two by then, not sixteen, but it seems that pregnancy still took her by surprise. Perhaps shed led a particularly sheltered life until then. She lived alone with her mother, her father having been drowned at sea in 1943, just before Norma was born, at least thats the story that has found its way into the files. Maybe my grandmother went to a party as well and was infected by the sudden drop in inhibitions that times of war can sometimes bring about. Perhaps the lost at sea story was just a useful cover for the truth.

Norma and my grandmother lived as a respectable mother and daughter in a corporation flat, where the corporation did not allow children, or so I have been told. Norma was working as a shorthand typist, no doubt hoping to improve herself by meeting and marrying a middle class businessman, someone who would allow her to rise in the world, someone who would take care of her. My imminent arrival must have seemed like a catastrophe to them, the ultimate shaming for a young woman trying to feign respectability.

Nothing in her world had prepared Norma for the responsibility of being a single mother. If my grandmother was not going to back her up, she had no one else to turn to. There was no boyfriend or husband to counsel her or encourage her. She didnt have a single clue what she should do with me or for me. When it came to starting a family she was entirely socially inadequate. I might as well have been born to another child for all the use she would be to me on my appearance in the world.

I, of course, knew nothing about any of this when I arrived, dependent and needy, helpless and vulnerable. I was born like any other child, entirely innocent and completely reliant upon the woman who had created me. And she had no idea of the time bomb that was ticking away inside me, a condition biding its time before showing its face and creating another problem for those who were going to have to look after me.

Unable to take me home, Norma gave me away to a friend to look after, much as you might give away a kitten which was an inconvenience to keep, or a goldfish you had won at a fairground stall. I know nothing about the woman she gave me to. I dare say she was thrilled initially to have a little baby to look after, helpless infants are designed by nature to be appealing, otherwise they would never survive their early years and the human species would soon disappear. I dare say I was as appealing as any other.

Whoever this friend was, the arrangement did not last long and by the time I was two weeks old I was in a childrens home and Norma was trying to make up her mind whether or not she wanted to put me up for adoption. It was a decision she was never able to finally make. If she had taken that one decision and shouldered the responsibility I might have had a chance at having a real family, but it was never to be. As it was I was left stranded in a limbo, neither wanted by her nor released by her so that I could be wanted by somebody else.

She must have toyed with the idea of adoption from time to time because somewhere in the piles of folders that make up my case files a social worker has made a note that it was hard to find a home for a half-Pakistani baby, even harder if the mother cant make up her mind whether to sign the baby away or not. So, I stayed in the childrens home and received occasional visits from Norma who would take me round to meet various relatives, everyone playing at being a family to me for a few hours, until it was time to go back to the home.

When I was eighteen months old they realised I had cerebral palsy . In those days sufferers of that disability were still generally known as spastics, with all the connotations that word carries with it. CP comes in a wide variety of degrees of severity and I was only lightly cursed. Damage to my brain meant that I had trouble co-ordinating my movements. I was, in other words, a clumsy child and as time went on and my body weight increased I would have more and more difficulty walking, making me slower than other children of my age. In the eyes of the majority, however, there are no degrees of disability, particularly spasticity, you either are disabled or you arent.

Since my mother couldnt make up her mind whether to get me adopted or not the childrens home started looking for a family who would foster me. I was four when they found the Youngs, a family who were willing to take in a lost puppy of a child in exchange for the income she would bring to the family.

For ten years I called Colin and June Mum and Dad, but it doesnt feel right on the tongue any more. It doesnt feel right to refer to them as Colin and June either, even after all these years, but I think that is what Ill have to call them, so you will know who I am talking about.


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