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She dreaded their reaction, particularly as history was repeating itself: she herself was the illegitimate daughter of an abandoned birth mother.
There must have been 20 of us girls and we slept in dormitories." And they weren't even able to hide their 'shame' entirely, since twice every Sunday the women were marched to church in crocodiles, like children – which led to a cruel local nickname for Birdhurst as "the home for naughty girls".
The turnover at Birdhurst Lodge was brisk, with each woman's stay limited to three months: six weeks before the birth and six weeks afterwards.
The timing was partly to give the mothers a chance to bond with their babies before deciding whether to have them adopted, but also a calculated move to let enough time elapse to make sure the babies were developmentally healthy, since adoptive couples did not want disabled children.
But I was most interested in Birdhurst, where my mother gave birth to me.
I knew nothing about the strictness of the regime there, until, in the course of researching my family history following my mother's death, I made contact with a woman called Gwen Bishop.