SO WHO IS MY MOTHER? David Stevenson as a Child Aged Seven and, Left, Today, with His Last Appearance in the Daily Mail

Article excerpt

Byline: David Stevenson, HILARY FREEMAN

THE last time I appeared in the pages of the Daily Mail, I didn't even have a name. I was just a few days old, but there I was on the front page, alongside a report about the then U.S. President-elect John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

It was Wednesday, December 21, 1960, and the world was in the grip of the Cold War. But for me, it was the beginning of a mystery that has haunted me my whole life.

'The Rainbow Baby Left In The Hall' read the headline, printed above a large black and white photo of a sleeping newborn child, with a shock of dark, curly hair and rosebud lips. It's the very first photo taken of me, but I have no idea who took it.

'Do you know the Rainbow Baby?' the article continued. 'His picture was issued by Scotland Yard last night. The four-dayold boy was abandoned in a second-floor hallway at West Heath Court, North End Road, Golders Green, last Thursday.

'He was dressed in a white candlewick shawl, lined with green, with a yellow bear embroidered on it, and a pink cardigan with a blue Fair Isle pattern. Over him had been laid a blue flannelette blanket decorated with a pink and black lamb.'

Over 48 years have passed since I was found in that hallway, but I still have barely any more knowledge about my origins than the sparse details printed in that report. As far as I know, nobody responded to the Mail's appeal. If they did, nothing came of it.

This month, hundreds of thousands of Britons have been been logging on to a new internet service that holds an electronic version of the 1911 census.

There, they can find the fascinating details about their ancestors' lives where they lived, what their profession was, who else was in the household bringing their family history to life before their eyes.

But for me, the past is a blank page. I'm like the baby delivered by a stork in folk tales. All I have is that Daily Mail cutting, a handful of incomplete records and a host of unanswered questions.

LAST week, for the first time, I went back to West Heath Court and stood in the exact spot where I was found.

It gave me some comfort to see that it's a wellmaintained mansion block, full of luxury flats and plush carpets. Whoever left me there clearly cared enough to want me to be safe and protected from the elements.

As I stood there, I pictured a young woman my mother coming through the doors with a little bundle and setting it down on the floor in front of me. The image was too fleeting, too ghostly to hold on to.

I closed my eyes and wished that I could get into a time machine and go back to that moment in 1960 and follow that woman. Where had she come from? Where did she go next and what has become of her?

Even the most basic details of my life the things that other people take for granted are a mystery to me. My birthday is an estimated date, as doctors weren't sure exactly how old I was when I was found, and it was picked for me by the authorities.

I don't know who named me or why they chose David. On my birth certificate, which was drawn up a few days after I was found, I am named David Charles Archer.

I've speculated that the Archer might be because I'm a Sagittarius and perhaps the Charles is after Prince Charles there's a story about him in the papers that day too. But who knows?

Lately, I've been increasingly troubled by these questions. Perhaps it's because I'm growing older and becoming more aware of my own mortality. I'm scared I will die without ever finding out who I am. And maybe it's because my own sons are growing up, turning from boys into men, their characters forming and developing.

As a child, I had no desire to find my real parents. After I was found, I was taken into care and fostered by Stuart and Margaret Stevenson, from nearby Edgware, Middlesex, who formally adopted me in 1963. …