On British TV there is a series running at the moment on a Thursday night called Long Lost Families. It has me glued to the set and following with tears and smiles the stories of children and parents, brothers and sisters who have been separated through adoption.
I was born in a mother and baby home in the late 1950’s. My mother had made the hard decision to have me adopted after I was born and in those days the advice was usually to not see or hold your baby. I was taken to the nursery and looked after by the nurses there. Two days later my grandmother, who I have never met since, came to see my mother and insisted on seeing me and of holding me too. My mother told me that my grandmother held me and gazed into my eyes and said ; “You must call her Julia”, and so I was named.
In those days mothers kept their babies for 6 weeks before they went for adoption. I don’t know much about that part of the story, I think it is too hard to talk about. But after being in a foster home for 3 months I went to live with the people who were to become my parents, my Mum and Dad. I was very much-loved and wanted and my adoption was a happy one.
When my adoption went through they changed my name and I grew up being called something else. Through the years I wondered about my name, I never felt quite at home with it. And the name ‘Julia” called to me although I never conciously knew that was my birth name. Years later, after having my own children the need to know where I came from led me on the journey to find my birth mother. And part of that was seeing my original birth certificate for the first time. I will never forget the goose bumps that came up and the shiver of recognition at ‘my’ name.
Over the years I have been lucky to have a relationship with my birth mother, and my half-sisters and their families. We recognise each other in a way that only families can. There is something deep, primal and magical in the connection. And I changed my name back to the one I was born with, the one that fits me, the one that says this is who I am.
Feminine form of the Latin Julius, an old Roman family name thought to be derived from Iulus (the first down on the chin, downy-bearded). Because a person just beginning to develop facial hair is young, the definition of this name and its related forms has evolved to “youth.”
This weekend the USA celebrates Mother’s Day. I am very blessed to have two in my life, and to have been given a name that through the years my cells remembered.