How Do Adopted Children Learn to Love Their Mums? NON-FICTION Nobody's Child: Who Are You When You Don't Know Your Past Kate Adie

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Byline: MARTIN ROWSON

KATE ADIE, the former BBC Foreign Correspondent, was adopted. Any connection with her ancestors was summarily cut off the moment her birth mother handed her over in 1945.

Confidentiality, anonymity and a "clean break" were then de rigueur in the process of adoption, and Adie starts her narrative with what seems, at first reading, to be a minor issue about her place of birth being wrong in her passport, but Adie slowly establishes how the incidentals of an individual's identity can become desperately important when you simply don't know the real answers.

Nobody's Child intersperses frequently harrowing personal testimonies - babies abandoned in taxi cabs, on grocery carts, in telephone boxes or even, in the case of one nine-month-old girl, on the South Downs with her hands tied behind her back - with a long historical overview. From Romulus A life in uniform: a young Kate Adie, given up by her mother in 1945, poses for her school photograph, while below, in camouflage during the Gulf War and Remus and Moses onwards, she catalogues how poverty, social stigmatising and, thereafter, the influence of the Church in demonising illegitimacy and women's sexual appetites have made women abandon their babies for millennia.

The children's subsequent lives, if they were lucky enough to be taken in by a foundling hospital and if they lived (most didn't), were often marked by lovelessness, regimentation and ostracism as they were expected to bear, if not expiate, their unknown mothers' "sin". …