When I worked in the Community Mental Health Sector in Scotland, I came
across many people with surprising stories. I was attending a seminar one day on
the rights of adopted children when I first met Amy.
I was sitting next to her at lunch and mentioned that I had little experience with people who were adopted. I was there mainly to listen.
"Well, I have experience," she said with a smile, and then began her story. Many years ago, when she was only 19, both her parents were killed in a car crash. Being an only child, she was absolutely devastated. She stayed for a year with relatives, but finally found the courage to return to their family home.
By that time, a new family had moved in next door. Amy was standing on the
front porch crying when a little girl's voice asked: "Why are you crying? Are you
The pretty little girl with long, dark, curly hair and huge brown eyes looked about 4 years old. Amy sniffed a lot and managed to say in a broken voice, "My mum and dad both died a year ago, and I just came back to the house."
The child, named Lois, asked a number of very direct questions that Amy found herself answering. The conversation drew the attention of Lois' little brother, Gary, who came to find out what was happening.
They asked if she would be moving into the house, and Amy explained that it
was too full of sad memories.
Lois studied her and asked: "Weren't you happy here with your mummy and daddy? Don't you have happy memories then?"
Amy stared at her in silence for a few moments and then said: "Well, yes, I do. We were all very happy here indeed. It's just that being here alone, without them, makes me sad."
"But you could come and visit with us all the time, and we could come over
and visit with you, then you wouldn't be on your own anymore!" Lois pointed out
as Gary nodded in agreement. Amy smiled at that as a man's voice called, "Lois, Gary, where are you?"
Their father, Mark, introduced himself. He knew Amy's story. Everyone in the
neighborhood did. He sympathetically cautioned Amy not to part with the house or its contents too soon and regret it later.
Amy stayed in the house for a while, and during the next week or so, the children called round a lot. She learned from another neighbor that their mum had run
off with some man for whom she had been working. Their dad was still very hurt
and quite bitter. He, Lois and Gary, along with their grandmother, had moved to the area to make a new start and try to leave the sad memories behind them.
These lovely children had their sadness, too. They had been told that their mother had gone off to live a new life, and it seemed to hurt Gary a great deal more
than Lois. Before long, it became apparent that Lois saw Amy as a replacement for
their missing mother. Grandma was fine, but she didn't play silly games, and she couldn't make their dad smile. Amy could.
Amy settled down in her old home, got a job back in town and spent many happy days with Lois and Gary. It took Mark some time to put his pain behind him, but during those years he and Amy grew closer. She went to school opening
days and sports days with Mark. She cried at prize-giving when Lois came first in
After five years, Mark confessed, "I cannot envisage my life without you, Amy."
"Me neither," she admitted with a kiss. "Lois made sure of that."
The adoption seminar lectures were about to begin, and Amy smiled at me as
we glanced at our watches.
"At least you have the experience of adopting children," I commented.
Amy laughed: "No, you see it wasn't that way. They adopted me."