story of the abandoned 'rainbow baby'
BBC News Magazine, 4th November 2009
just a few days old, David Stevenson was abandoned outside a flat in
London. Forty-nine years later, he's trying to piece together what
happened on that fateful day in 1960.
a deep breath, David Stevenson felt like he was opening his life story
and about to read the first page.
the red-brick mansion building in front of him, in the winter sunshine,
lay the clues to his true identity.
imagined being carried through those front doors in his mother's arms,
38 years before, then her leaving empty-handed, never to see her son
was his first visit, in 1998, to the flats in north London where he was
abandoned as a newborn baby.
his mother's steps, he waited for someone to leave so he could slip in
the front door and make his way up two flights of stairs to the second
floor. Outside Flat 39, he looked at the spot where someone - he
believes his mother - placed him on the cold, concrete floor. If it was
her, it was the last time they were ever together.
story starts at that point. Everything I know about my life since then
was trying to imagine a young woman carrying a baby walking through the
doors and leaving a baby on the floor in the corridor.
been back a few times since and there's still an emotion associated with
going there because that's the first location I can identify of me being
somewhere. It's very poignant - there's a ghost there somewhere."
5pm on 15 December 1960, the police station in Golders Green received a
phone call to say a newborn baby had been left abandoned in West Heath
one of the few female officers, Wpc Tegwen Curl was sent to the scene,
where she saw a crowd of residents in the corridor around the baby,
which was still on the floor outside Flat 39.
overwhelming feeling is that I was left in that particular block of
flats on that particular floor for a reason and there's a connection
with someone who had lived there at the time."
he got his adoption papers in the late 1990s, he visited the flats where
he was left and looked at old newspapers to see what was reported at the
time. He was stunned to find he and President John F Kennedy had
together made the front page of the Daily Mail, who nicknamed him the
"rainbow baby" because of the coloured clothes he was found
had always been an itch to scratch. But what sparked my interest was
having children of my own. Holding my baby son in my arms for the first
time was a realisation that this was the first blood relative I had ever
to find his parents were half-hearted and he had no idea how he would go
about it, until his partner Julie Howell spurred him into action a year
software product manager, who lives in Watford and has three sons, began
investigating who had lived in those flats at the time.
immediately ruled out the elderly widow in Flat 39 and presumed he had
been moved there by someone else in the corridor.
and Julie tracked down the officer who found him, Mrs Curl, and the two
had an emotional reunion. They have since become very close, she like a
mother figure to him.
is Welsh and had named him David after her father and brother, and drew
inspiration for his middle name, Charles, from a colleague called
Charlie. A magistrate gave David the surname Archer, saying a name
beginning with "A" would give him a good start in life. Archer
was replaced by Stevenson when David was later adopted.
Curl told him it had immediately struck her as odd that the baby had not
been gathered up in someone's arms.
something suspicious," he says. "It's almost as though the
baby was somewhere else and for the purpose of calling the police the
baby was put back on the floor again. My extremities were cold so I had
been there for a while, on a cold floor."
nephew of one couple who lived in Flat 36 came to the UK and took a DNA
test to see if it matched David's but it was negative, so he was ruled
out as a relative.
focus for David and Julie's investigation is now on a man called Richard
Hamer, who lived on that second floor at the time.
IS RICHARD HAMER?
Born in 1898 in Shropshire, grew up in Rhayader, Mid Wales
Still in Rhayader in 1911
Records show he was in West Heath Court, Golders Green, in 1937
No records found for 1911 to 1937
Film booker for Odeon Cinemas during the 1940s
Marries Janet Cram in 1945
Moved to Brighton in 1956, but keeps London flat
Wife dies in 1964 and Hamer remarries two years later
He died in 1978
would like to speak to anyone related to Mr Hamer, who died in 1978.
are many unanswered questions that push him forward in trying to piece
together the events of that day, but he has his theories about what
drives me forward with this search is trying to discover the truth and
the circumstances that led me to be left there.
did it happen? Did a young woman in her teens get pregnant? The social
mores at the time looked down on unmarried mothers.
she in desperate straits or was she a bit older and possibly even
married and had an extramarital affair? One can imagine all sorts of
doctor who examined the baby David soon after he was discovered
estimated he was about four days old, and his new birth certificate put
his birthday as 10 December, which is the date David accepts and
details I'm quite likely never to know unless my birth mother was to
come forward and reveal all. A lot of people take these things for
granted but I can't."
other people can empathise with David, as there are dozens of babies
that are abandoned in the UK each year, and
an issue covered by the Magazine in the past.
says he has no anger towards his mother, accepting that she acted in a
way she felt she had to. His adopted parents fully support his quest and
are excited by it, and he hopes more details will emerge as he widens
do feel a bit incomplete. It's part of my identity and part of my
children's identity. Doing this story is about pursuing information for
them, as well as for me."
from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/11/04 12:03:46 GMT
© BBC MMX
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