Irish Independent, Saturday August 07 2010
wants to know where they come from, who they resemble and whose genes
are responsible for the bits of themselves they don't like, and I am no
different. I was born in Belfast on March 7, 1975. My birth mother had
resided in an institution for unmarried mothers for much of her
pregnancy with me and I had been baptised in a church in the south of
father and mother, Peter and Eileen Cassidy, adopted me when I was 15
weeks old and instantly fell in love with my name (Fionnuala Mary),
therefore decided to keep it. They also surmised that as it may well
have been the last thing my mother had given me, they didn't want to
grew up in Galbally, Co Tyrone, which is about seven miles from
Dungannon, approximately 20 miles from Omagh and boasts picturesque
countryside and a tight, close-knit community. My father was
vice-principal in the local primary school and my mother was a teacher
there, so being raised with a love of reading, which eventually led to
an ambition to write, was hardly surprising!
a child I grew up with the term 'adopted', and my parents talked openly
about the fact that I was very special to them, as they had waited 13
years for a child. I had a very happy childhood and know that I was
truly blessed when I was placed.
Daddy talks about the adoption process as something akin to being
considered for canonisation, so rigorous and laborious were all the
paperwork and meetings with social workers.
also maintains that his hair was brown before I appeared, which was when
the grey began to set in with a vengeance! I was a very colicky baby,
who arrived with two big blue eyes and the lungs of a sergeant major in
command mode, and am single-handedly responsible for my own destiny in
growing up as an only child, it would seem.
mother still recalls phoning the local priest in tears asking for divine
intervention the night I arrived and cried solidly for hours on end. The
priest duly landed and was greeted with a harassed mother and a baby
who, even at that early stage, showed artistic promise with her acting
abilities at fooling him into thinking there was nothing wrong with her.
I grew older I became more inquisitive, and the need to find out more
about my ancestry became stronger. Telling me that my 'real' mother
wasn't able to look after me no longer sufficed.
few days after my 18th birthday I presented myself at the Registry of
Births, Deaths and Marriages in Chichester Street, Belfast, and asked
for the full version of my birth certificate. My Christian name hadn't
changed and I had always known my birth mother's surname, so I was in
the lucky position of being able to get the information I required,
which was a major achievement.
fact, it was such an important part of my own adoption story that I
decided to relive my experiences through my fictional character Ruby in
Anyone for Me?.
always remember the feeling of having that piece of paper in my back
pocket. The only way I can describe it is by saying that for the very
first time I felt as if I belonged just a little bit more, as I had the
name of the person who brought me into the world.
that I was ever made to feel like an outsider by my parents or extended
family, you understand, it's just that when you're adopted I think a
small part of you always feels as if you don't quite fit in, because you
know you used to belong to someone else. I've spoken to other adopted
people about my feelings and they have reiterated my sentiments, which
has given me a lot of comfort and reassurance.
some time had passed I decided to disclose to my parents that I was now
in possession of my birth certificate. They weren't entirely surprised
as I am a very impulsive kind of a gal. I knew, however, that they were
very worried that I would go further, so they told me that if I was
doing anything I would be best going through the proper channels.
was never one for listening to advice, though, and as an 18-year-old who
obviously knew far more about everything than her parents, I decided to
take matters into my own hands. With the help of a friend I decided to
visit the place where my mother lived and, while there, my accomplice
made a few enquiries in a local pub until I eventually was able to drive
to her house.
having the nerve to actually knock on her door, my comrade did the
needful and, while there under false pretences, managed to procure the
phone number of my maternal aunt, whose name had appeared on a Baptismal
Certificate I had found (Bonny and Clyde wouldn't have a look in).
nervous anticipation and great excitement I rang her and a meeting was
arranged, and that was when my world fell apart to some degree.
from a fairytale reunion, with Cilla Black singing in the background,
this was an uncomfortable meeting where I learned things I would rather
have not known. I was told that my mother was unwell and that meeting
her would do neither of us any good. In short, I was told that I had
been adopted for a reason and to go home.
was devastated and because I had gone against my parents wishes I kept
my emotions to myself, which was extremely detrimental to my wellbeing
and resulted in me being in counselling for a year after I eventually
did reveal what had occurred.
was 17 years ago and I am still no further forward in my search. A lot
has happened in that time, including the birth of my three children as
well as meeting my partner and becoming a part-time mother to his two
children, which is ironic given the fact that I am now carrying out a
similar role to the one my parents have been doing for years.
have tried through various contacts to approach my birth family, but
they are reluctant to acknowledge my existence and have blocked any
attempts I have made to meet with them or indeed my birth mother. As it
has never been my intention to cause anyone, least of all my birth
mother, distress, I have had to accept this situation and it has not
must stress that the circumstances surrounding my birth and my mother's
wellbeing are not straightforward, therefore it is not a typical case.
However, I have been disappointed on many occasions by the apparent
reluctance of my own flesh and blood to see things from my point of
view. Like any other child, I never asked to be born and, like any other
child, I want to be accepted.
have never had closure and still have many unanswered questions lying
dormant within me. I have done extensive research on my heritage and
come from interesting stock boasting politicians both north and south of
the border, a famous Irish actor and, believe it or not, a fellow
people have asked me why I wrote Anyone for Me? and my answer is quite
simple. I wanted to write the story that I have never enjoyed in real
life. I found writing my book therapeutic and cathartic, and, far from
it being a sad story, it is a humorous look at the exploits of a young
woman as she embarks on a search for her birth mother and the trouble
she gets into on the way.
course, there are serious undertones but, on the whole, I hope that it
will give my readers the same laughs they enjoyed in Anyone For Seconds?
I have learnt in life that if you don't laugh you might very well cry,
and that is something I try very hard not to do.
wish my birth mother every happiness and hope that one day my birth
family will have the charity and selflessness to realise that the
fictional character in my book isn't the only one to ask: "Is there
anyone for me?"
Cassidy's novel Anyone For Me? is published by Poolbeg Press
- Fiona Cassidy
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