By March 16, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Three generations of adoption

Photograph: Felix Clay for the Guardian

Photograph: Felix Clay for the Guardian

By Kate Hilpern, The Guardian: When Ray Victor Lewis’s mother gave him up for adoption in 1936, she left him with a small Bible. Inside the front cover, the inscription reads, “Ray of Sunshine, Victorious over all.”

Ray’s name wasn’t changed by his new parents, although he was a baby. Nor were the circumstances of his adoption kept from him. Ray always knew it was because his birth mother was only 17 when she had him. There was contact, too – she visited and wrote to Ray until he was a toddler and she could no longer handle it. “The last letter she wrote was one my [adoptive] mum treasured,” recalls Ray, 78. “I think she felt it would help me to have something to explain why my birth mother couldn’t keep me.”

After Ray and his wife, Janet, married, they decided to adopt too. By now it was 1968 and parents were encouraged to give babies a new name, and often received no information at all about the birth family. So Karen, 45, always knew she was adopted but grew up knowing nothing about her origins, even that her name had been changed.

Now Karen has become the latest in this family to adopt, creating the only known British family with three generations of adoption. And if there is one thing that never ceases to amaze her, it’s that her two-year-old daughter’s experience is far more like her dad’s was in the 1930s than her own. “It’s almost as if we’ve come full circle in our approach,” she says thoughtfully, as Ray nods in agreement.

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