What does Bonfire Night mean to your family? Perhaps you attend a community bonfire, make a Guy Fawkes or indulge in some tasty treats. For me, 5th November is a very special day. It is the day I became part of the Holmes family. I was adopted on Bonfire Night.
About my adoptive parents
My adoptive parents had two teenage sons. They had always wanted a daughter but were unable to have more children. At the grand old age of 42, they decided to start all over again and offer a home to a child. They contacted the Catholic Children’s Home in Leeds. The staff were so impressed that they wanted to start all over again on the parenting lark in their forties that they arranged a special meeting with the Bishop!
How I met my adoptive parents
It was decided that as Mum and Dad were that bit older an older baby might be better for them. So they met me and took me home when I was 11 months old. My birth mother had brought me to the centre from London and bought me a doll to remember her by. I have that doll to this day.
Mum and Dad came along to collect me on 5th November 1969. Mum fed me and apparently we took to each other straightaway. Mum did mention that she could hear a wailing sound but did not work out until later that it was my birth mother. My Mum always wished she could have met my birth mum to tell her that she had every intention of looking after me well. That was not allowed in those days. I understand there is more support for everyone involved these days.
Going to my new home
It was dark by the time Mum and Dad took me home to Dewsbury. Mum said it felt like the fireworks were there to mark such a life-changing event for all of us. When I arrived home, apparently one brother took me out to show me off to the neighbours and another helped to give me a bath.
All the signs are that apart from a few ill-informed and negative remarks, the community accepted me as one of their own. I was showered with welcome gifts — even from the milkman!
Did I have a ‘good’ adoption?
The adoption went well. Did that mean my parents were perfect? Not at all. Would I have wanted them to be? Absolutely not. They were individuals with good and bad points as was I. Just like in any family.
As the years went by, people would comment how I looked so like my Mum. Sometimes we would share our adoption story and sometimes we would just smile at each other knowingly. Character- and interests
-wise, I am a mix of my adoptive parents. It is not difficult to work out where my love of learning, my strong sense of social justice or my wish to help the underdog comes from.
How I celebrate 5th November
Every year on 5th November, we would mark the day that I came home and took on my new name of Catherine Holmes. We did this quietly and in quite a private way perhaps sharing a cake and cards or buying each other flowers.
Mum and Dad passed away in recent years and I wrote the eulogies for both of them.
When I ‘Remember, remember the 5th November’, I am thinking of Irene and Kenneth Holmes and how they gave me exactly what I needed.
Love and acceptance
Encouragement to learn and to aspire
For their part, they stated that their family would not have been complete without me and that I kept them young!
You don’t have to be a paragon of virtue to adopt. You just have to be like most parents – loving and trying your best to keep on keeping on through the joys and the challenges.
For more information on adoption, visit leading charity AdoptionUK.