The Baby Laundry for Unmarried Mothers – 1st March 2012
Angela Patrick, with Lynne Barrett-Lee
In 1963, Angela Brown was 19, enjoying her first job working in the City of London, when her life turned upside down. A brief fling with a charismatic charmer left her pregnant, unmarried and facing a stark future. Not yet 21, she was still under the governance of her parents, strict Catholics who insisted she have the baby in secret and then put it up for adoption. Forced to leave her job and her family, Angela was sent to a convent in Essex for her ‘confinement’. Run like a Victorian workhouse, she was vilified by the nuns for her ‘wickedness’. After a terrifying labour with no pain relief, Angela gave birth to a beautiful son, Paul. At eight weeks he was taken from her and forcibly put up for adoption, leaving Angela heartbroken. Not a day went by without Angela thinking about him. Then, thirty years later, a letter came. It was from Paul, and a reunion was arranged. This vital slice of social history is a shocking reminder of how attitudes have changed around the issue of single motherhood since the early 1960s. It is also an honest, heartfelt memoir that explores the closest of human bonds.