Could you give your child away?
I was sitting with my two-year-old granddaughter Isabella on my knee, listening to her chatter. She’s different and more advanced every week. I love her to bits! She’s beautiful, funny and so rewarding.
It would break my heart if she was taken away from us!
Then I remembered when I lived on the island of Malta in the 1960s.
Several British Army regiments were based there, plus Navy and RAF bases.
I went to the RN school at Tal Handaq, which was for Forces’ children.
Sometimes one of the girls would become pregnant by one of the Forces. This was looked on as a terrible scandal, especially if her parents were Officers.
There were a few shotgun marriages, most of which ended in divorce after the birth of the child.
But a lot of the children were taken off the mother and adopted.
I remember a friend of mine who became pregnant after a short affair. The father, a nasty louse called Chris, denied that the baby was his and said that if he was taken to Court, he’d get some of his friends to say that they’d slept with my friend as well.
When I went to see my friend after the birth of her daughter, I held the cooing little pink bundle while my friend’s mother was putting on her make-up, ready to go to the Officers’ Mess for the evening. And she said that the baby was going next week as they’d found a home for her.
She showed no emotions at all. And that small newborn girl was her grandchild.
My friend showed no emotions either. It was just taken for granted that the baby girl would go, for ever.
A few months later, she met someone else and they got married. He would have accepted the child and raised her as his own.
Another RAF couple couldn’t have children and they were given news at last that a baby was arriving from a British family in Cyprus. They were delighted.
But what about the Forces girl who had been forced to give up her baby?
The Royal Sussex Regiment was based in Malta when we lived there. Since then, some of them have become experts at tracing the children that were given away against the wishes of their fathers.
It was looked on as better to give the baby away than to have their daughter married to a humble Private in the army!
There have been some very successful reunions over the years. But the lost years can never be recaptured.
As I cuddle my lovely little granddaughter, I think of how times have changed.
My daughter Rana has no intentions of marrying her partner. She’s happy the way they are.
But there’s no way that I could ever imagine handing over my grandchild to unknown strangers to raise her, and never seeing her again!
How barbaric, and I wonder how many parents and grandparents have lived a life of sadness, loss and regret!
And for what? All for snobbery, and worrying about what their friends would think – and if it would affect Granddad’s promotion chances!
I don’t care what other people think. You never lose true friends. And the rest of them can get lost and mind their own business!