My Lifelong Trauma as a Forced Adoptee

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Pub Date 9 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 30 Nov 2023

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“I was two when the woman I called Mummy told me, ‘You came out of another mummy’s tummy.’ I grew up thinking that my birth mother didn’t want me. I assumed there must’ve been something inherently wrong with me – why else would a mother give up her baby?”

In 1974, Liz Harvie – born Claire Elaine Watts – was given up for adoption by her birth mother Yvonne. Claire was just eight weeks old when her adoptive parents took her in – and renamed her Elizabeth. 

Although brought up in a ‘perfect’ household, the emotional – and physical – trauma of being taken from her biological mother would never leave Liz. She constantly wondered: what does my real mum look like? Will she come back for me? Why did she abandon me? But whenever Liz voiced such questions, she invariably received the same response: “Your birth parents were not married. They couldn’t look after you.”

Years later, aged twenty-eight, Liz reconnected with her birth mother – and finally learned the shocking truth surrounding her adoption. Yvonne had not abandoned her daughter. A social worker had snatched her ten-day-old baby from her arms. “I didn’t even get a final cuddle. She just took her away from me,” says Yvonne. 

Liz became one of 185,000 victims of forced adoption between 1949 and 1976 in England and Wales. As a young unmarried mum, Yvonne was deemed unfit as a parent by the government, churches, adoption agencies and her father – and made to give up her child against her will. 

Although reunited, Liz and Yvonne are still struggling to cope with the agony resulting from their devastating separation. As Liz says, “We can’t just skip hand in hand into the sunset. The trauma of being a forced adoptee is lifelong.”

“I was two when the woman I called Mummy told me, ‘You came out of another mummy’s tummy.’ I grew up thinking that my birth mother didn’t want me. I assumed there must’ve been something inherently...

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Featured Reviews

Unspoken was so well written. I got lost in the story about Liz and her journey all about adoption. As an adoptive mom I found her story to be so helpful in how to provide help and guidance to my teenage son. Based on the things that Liz discussed and her feelings, it gave me insight to that time in an adoptee's life. Well done! Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC. Five stars.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.
Reading adoption stories always brings up a rollercoaster of emotions. This was a well written account of a forced adoption that tells her experience with her adopted parents and then eventually meeting her biological parents.
This brings awareness to the forced adoptions of the 1970s.

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