With a milestone birthday coming up soon and my plans to look at my DNA profile, I decided to revisit my adoption files. I got these many years ago so there were no shocks for me but it is odd how you react differently to the information as you go through your own life and times. Today I am going to talk about my birth father who I would actually love to track down although I don’t really know where to start.

My father was called John and he was born in 1947 in Wexford in Ireland. He was 5 feet and 10 inches with brown eyes and a fair skin. His father was a farmer but John came over to London and lived in Forest Gate E7. He worked in the building trade. My adoptive mum told me he was a plasterer.  She would emphasize that this was very skilled job and I should respect him for that. It appears my father came from a large family with 4 brothers and 5 sisters. He was Roman Catholic. For many years I thought he was Protestant and that it was religious difference that had led to the difficulty in him and my mother staying together. I think this came from my adoptive mum trying to second guess why they could not be together as she had the impression from the nuns that they had loved one another. The adoption papers confirm they had known each other for 2 and a half years and already had a baby the year before who was also adopted apparently in Ireland.

It is clear that my birth parents considered marriage. My mother was quite a bit older than my natural father in her late twenties whilst he was just 20 at the time of my birth. It seems my maternal grandparents disapproved of them marrying due to my natural father’s lack of security. Inevitably, that angers me a bit.

There is reference in the adoption papers to my father’s jealous nature and occasional violence against my birth mother. I think it is hard to make a judgement on this as it is clear that by the time my mother was being interviewed, she was keen to distance herself from him and also to prevent him from saying no to the adoption.

What is lovely for me to know is that John wanted to keep me. That is so clear from both the adoption file and the actual letters written by my birth mother at the time that are included in the files. He came to see me in the hospital. This means so very much to someone who has struggled to feel good enough in life.

In the aftermath of my birth, social workers attempted to find him without success to establish his views before releasing me for adoption at all.

Whatever the calibre of the man, it breaks my heart a little that a man who at the very young age of 20 was prepared to take me on, marry my mother and get a flat for them may be somewhere wondering where I am and what happened to me. I would of course love to find him and suspect he probably went back to Ireland at some point. I have no wish to disrupt a new family or to upset him but maybe I would upset him more by not trying to find him.

It strikes me in wider terms how often we assume the father is of less importance than the mother. We think men can be unfeeling in such circumstances. I am heartened that is seems very clear that my birth father did love me even if it is quite possible that he only saw me on one occasion

Adopted adults can have support in tracking down birth relatives via the NORCAP register.
So dear reader, should I try and track him down before it is too late?

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Cuddle Fairy

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

Twin Mummy and Daddy

Confessions of a New Mummy

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It can be tricky at times to work out the best places to take the kids in the UK. The combination of distance and cost always needs to be assessed, especially if you’re taking a full car-load of excited children. The good news, however, is that you don’t have to spend a fortune, and it’s not all about theme parks and waiting in long lines either. Ideally, the best places to take your kids are those destinations that will entertain them, and if you can squeeze in a little learning as well, then that’s just the icing on the cake. If you’re struggling to find somewhere to take the kids that tick all of the boxes, then these top four options might be your best bet.

The Science Museum, London

If you have any up-and-coming scientists in your family, then you’re definitely going to want to take them to the Science Museum. Perfect for those inquisitive and curious minds, the Science Museum has a wide range of interactive experiences, as well as movies shown in the IMAX theatre. With everything from robots to rocket ships, the budding scientists will be sure to find some inspiration and wonder after just a few hours. Perfect for kids of all ages!

Warner Bros Studio Tour, London

For Harry Potter fans, nothing is going to beat a day at the Warner Bros Studio Tour. This one is a bit of a no-brainer, especially as the tour gives you the chance to board the Hogwarts Express and even step into the Great Hall where the characters enjoyed so many experiences. There are behind the scenes exhibitions which will reveal some of the secrets to the magic, as well as a full range of iconic costumes and props that were used in the films themselves. There are public transport links to the tour, but many people find that it’s quicker, cheaper, and easier to simply rent a car for the day and drive straight there; click here to find out more. You’ll have to judge your children’s enthusiasm for this one, because if they’re not fans of the series, then they’re not going to enjoy it as much.

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, Edinburgh

If you’re close to Edinburgh, then you certainly need to take the time to visit the Camera Obscura. With six floors of special effects, puzzles, interactive games and much more, this is one of the UK’s oldest attractions, and it’s still going strong today. Finish the day with a trip to the top of the tower to check out the Camera Obscura itself, where your children can stand inside a live projection of Edinburgh, and pretend to squish people with their fingers! It might not be the ideal venue for older teenagers, but for younger teens and even toddlers, the smoke and mirrors and magic will keep them spellbound.

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

If you are close to Antrim, Northern Ireland, then you’re going to want to take the kids to see the Giant’s Causeway at some point. This is the perfect destination for those parents hoping to introduce a little magic and mystery into their children’s lives. The UNESCO-listed formation of rocks are enough to spark the imaginations of any child, and you’ll be able to see the awe on their faces when they spot the Causeway for the first time. Spend the day scrambling over rocks, and you’ll also exhaust them too!

There’s plenty to do with your children that doesn’t mean bland, sterile theme parks. Use your time with them to spark some creativity and curiosity, and you’ll all gain much more from the experience than you ever would standing in line for the latest rollercoaster.

Best Family Days Out In UK

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One of things that struck me throughout my breast cancer treatment was what people said to me. I had an awful lot of very nice things said to me. Gorgeous, lovely, kind, supportive, empathetic, delightful, wonderful words spoken from the bottom of the heart. Words which made my heart swell, my face smile and which carried me through my treatment from the day of diagnosis to the end of a very difficult period of treatment. Words which continue to give me a warm fuzzy feeling and which help me now as I make my way through the tricky post-treatment period.

Cancer

But then again, I was also struck by some of the other things that people said to me. Some of the not-so-nice things. To be fair, I expect that most of the time it was because they didn’t know what to say: they may have been uncomfortable around cancer; they may not have had any experience of talking to someone with cancer; or they may have felt awkward around a cancer patient. But, whichever way you look at it, I had some inconsiderate, stupid, insensitive, thoughtless things said to me. Some things I let wash over me with a roll of the eyes and a little sigh, whilst other things have stayed with me, nibbling away, clinging on and not letting go.

So, I have taken it upon myself to use every opportunity I am given, to give guidance to people about what, and what not, to say to their friend or family member with cancer.

Let’s start with the easy bit. There are three phrases that you can say, all with their own variations, but basically as follows:

1. “I am here to support you no matter what.”
2. “I don’t know what to say.”
3. “Tell me what I can do for you.”
Simple. Easy. Straightforward.

And now onto the things NOT to say.

1. ” My aunt/friend/neighbour had breast cancer … and then she died.”

I thought I would start with a popular one. I think this has something to do with the inane need in people to find something in common with whatever someone else is going through. Often, I think mouths work faster than brains. You can see someone’s brain catching up with their mouth at the point where they come to the death in the story: they realise that the story doesn’t have a good ending but they have got so far in the story that they can’t just stop mid-flow. Please think before you speak – we don’t want to hear these stories.

2. “If you had done X, Y and Z/ not done A, B and C then maybe you would not have got cancer.”

Actually, no, it doesn’t work that way. Yes okay, there are some types of cancer which are scientifically linked to certain lifestyles (like smoking and lung cancer) but on the whole, cancer is indiscriminate and down to bad luck. It is bad enough that us cancer patients constantly (but to no avail) feel guilty and ask ourselves these types of questions, we don’t need anyone else piling on the guilt.

3. “Eating A, B, C can cure cancer.”

NO. IT. CAN’T. Eating a healthy diet is incredibly important. But not because it can cure cancer. It can’t. Our oncologists, breast consultants, doctors and nurses are not giving us chemotherapy, radiotherapy and all the other treatments for the fun of it.

4. “If I was in your situation then I would….”

But (luckily for you) you are not in my situation so it’s probably best if you don’t try to second guess what you would do (unless of course, I specifically ask for your opinion where you would need to put yourself in my shoes).

5. “It’s only hair.”

Yep, you can say that because you haven’t had to go and shave all your hair off but losing our hair is incredibly traumatic for many reasons: there is an association between the baldness and death; it can mean a loss of our personal identity; we can no longer pretend that cancer isn’t really happening once we lose our hair; and baldness tells the rest of the world that we are sick. Some of us feel defined by our looks so that we feel the loss of our hair can change who we are. Whatever the reason, or reasons, losing our hair and going bald is a pretty big deal.

6. “But breast cancer is a good one to get.”

No, it isn’t. No cancer is a good one to get. All cancers are life threatening, have horrible treatment and the chance of recurring or spreading (I won’t go into the statistics for someone with primary breast cancer developing secondary/terminal breast cancer – but let’s just say it isn’t a statistic that any of us are happy with). And it is not a who-has-got-the-worst-cancer-competition.

7. “You look well.”

Please don’t say this. I know you mean well and you are trying to make a positive remark in a horrible situation. But I am not well and the chances are that I don’t look well. And I really don’t want to have a conversation focusing on my looks when I look like a bald, eyebrow-less, eyelash-less, puffy, red-faced zombie.

8. “Sorry I’ve been rubbish and not been in touch” or, “Sorry I haven’t been here for you, but I have had [X/Y/Z] going on in my life and just been so busy”.

Have you been dealing with something as serious as a life-threatening illness and all the emotional and physical crap that a diagnosis and treatment brings? No? Well, I could have done with your support, maybe a text or a call or a note through the post. Something to tell me that you cared about me and that my existence matters to you.

9. “You will be back to normal soon.”

Unfortunately, no, although there is nothing I would like more, I probably won’t get back to “normal”. So much changes during cancer treatment: I look different, I feel physically different and I have changed mentally. Having faced my mortality directly in the face, I am not sure that there is such a thing as returning to normal. Yes, things will improve, a recovery of sorts will be made, but I’ll never go back to the way I was before. And that makes me really sad.

10. “If it was me, I wouldn’t want to be defined by cancer.”

I thought I would end on this belter of a comment. One that was said to me as we ate dinner around our kitchen table with friends. I had cancer. But I tend not to talk about it with family or friends. I don’t bring it up in conversations. However, cancer is a big deal. It worked its way into every single aspect of my life. I can’t help that. And because it was so awful, I decided to do something to help others who are going through breast cancer treatment by setting up my website and writing articles to help others who are going through the same thing. That doesn’t mean that cancer defines me. What defines me is that I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a lawyer, and now a writer, a blogger and someone who wants to help people who are going through breast cancer.

10 Things You Should Never Say To A Cancer Patient

Sara is the founder of www.tickingoffbreastcancer.com, a website dedicated to helping people through their breast cancer treatment from diagnosis to living life to the full once treatment ends. Aged 42 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Sara decided to set up the website to support those who do not know which way to turn for help after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis; those who are overwhelmed by the breast cancer resources online; those who may be scared to go online for fear of what they might find; and those just looking for a comfortable, safe, calm place to turn for help. The website provides practical advice for each step of the way, together with many links and signposts to other online resources.

Cuddle Fairy
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Remarkable examples of flawless fashion have allowed so many of the world’s most famous ladies to turn heads and make moments that are long talked about. It is often through the women’s dresses that they wear when gracing the red carpet or shooting a scene for the big or small screen that helps to get them noticed, but which are the most iconic moments?

Here, we take a look at a selection of the most iconic and inspiring designer dresses. Not only that, we also provide tips on how you can replicate the look with dresses that can be bought on the high-street today…

Marilyn Monroe

So many generations will remember Marilyn Monroe for her off-screen endeavours, her beauty and her talent. However, which of the pop culture icon’s renowned outfits beats them all to be the most iconic? For most of us, seeing Monroe playfully pushing down the skirt of her white cocktail dress in the film, The Seven Year Itch, is an enduring image that sums up the actress’ spirit and appeal. The backless, sleeveless dress, designed by William Travilla, featured a below-the-knee skirt and halter-like bodice with a plunging neck — risqué for the 1950s. Striking the perfect balance between elegance and seductiveness, this outfit is still inspiring designers today and even sold at auction in 2011 for $4.6 million!

You must select a high-street dress with a ‘vintage party’ vibe if you’re going to embody the Monroe appeal with your fashion choices. This dress style has a distinctive time-honoured elegance to it, yet, it looks ideal for a fun girls’ night. Go for a pleated midi skirt or lace embellishment for a beautiful retro appeal, then update the look in the upper section. Monroe makes up for the modest skirt hemline by showing more shoulder and arms — do the same with a Bardot or plunge neckline and polish off your 1950s-inspired look with mid-heel sandals and a pretty, floral hair slide.

Cher

Cher showcased how to make an impact when appearing at the 1986 Academy Awards. The legend of music and film was asked to present the Best Supporting Actor award and made sure she wouldn’t be upstaged by the winner in a black, jewel-encrusted gown with matching plumed headpiece designed by Bob Mackie. Split into a hip-hugging skirt and criss-cross bralet, the outfit was captivatingly daring for an Oscars event and has gone down in film industry history as one of the most famous outfits ever.

Confidence will be very important if you’re going to get the essence of this amazing look just right. Show off your curves by pairing a black cami bralet with a long, side-split skirt or opt for a midriff cut-out maxi dress. Swap the plumed headwear for a diamante headband and add to the glamour with a pair of embellished, slingback heels. Cher wonderfully made her bold outfit perfect for the sophisticated Academy Awards by complementing her exposed midriff with a loose-fit jacket — get the same effect with a chiffon kimono.

Julia Roberts

There’s no doubting that Julia Roberts is one of film’s most celebrated women. After all, she has appeared in so many blockbuster movies and also has an Oscar win among her remarkable list of accomplishments. Obviously, the actress has donned many outfits during her on-screen time, but perhaps one of the most iconic costumes is the red, off-the-shoulder dress she wore with long, white evening gloves in Pretty Woman. Created by designer, Marilyn Vance-Straker, this scarlet column dress, featured a sweetheart neckline and sat elegantly off the shoulder to create a beautiful silhouette that looked innovative, yet timeless. So, how do you get the high-street version?

Feminine elegance is seen throughout this gown’s design. If you have a special occasion coming up, this style is ideal. Stick with the sweetheart neckline but opt for a shorter hemline or even an asymmetric skirt cut to tone down the formality. Pair with wrap-round heels and keep jewellery to a minimum — chokers look particularly good with this neckline and a simple, neutral-shade clutch will finalise the look perfectly. Wearing your hair up will help show off the outline of the dress, too.

Jennifer Lopez

By appearing at the 42nd Grammy Awards in 2000 wearing a green, silk chiffon gown, Jennifer Lopez caught the eye of so many people in attendance and who were watching across the globe. Designed by Donatella Versace, this stunning dress featured a jungle print and a daring, plunging neckline that opened all the way to the singer’s navel — secured with a sparkling green brooch.  All over the world, people went wild for this innovative gown. According to former Google chairman, Eric Schmidt, it was the most popular search query ever and even led to the launch of Google Image Search! Described as a turning point in Versace’s career, emulating this flawless look is simple.

It doesn’t matter your body shape, you can showcase a beautiful, flowing silhouette in a silk chiffon dress. Select a style with a long-at-the-back hemline to show off your legs and recreate the daring-but-sophisticated appeal of the famous jungle dress — asymmetric cuts will also look good and make sure you choose a bold, eye-catching colour to stand out from the crowd. Tropical prints are popular this fashion season — although check and animal patterns also work well — while long-sleeves help create an elegant balance of exposed skin. Don’t feel you have to go as low at the front as J-Lo, though. Plunging necklines certainly inject a touch of glamour into an outfit, but you can get the same effect by going for a simple v-neck and enhancing your dress with statement jewellery and high heels to make sure you’re ready for a special evening.

Beyoncé

No matter if it’s when she’s working on new music or her fashion choices, Beyoncé never seems to be anything but one step ahead of the rest. We couldn’t get enough of the sheer, bejewelled dress that Beyoncé wore at the Met Gala in 2015. Designed by Givenchy, the fitted, backless gown was awash with strategically-placed multi-coloured crystals and before slowing elegantly around her heeled feet.

There’s only so many times that you’ll be able to wear a see-through, crystallised dress and pull off the look mind. However, there’s no reason that you can’t enhance your wardrobe with something similarly extravagant. Concentrate on the embellishment of your gown to emulate the Beyoncé look — styles such as a diamante bodycon or metallic maxi dress will offer a similar, stand-out look that’s perfect for a night out. Instead of sheer or see-through, why not opt for a nude gown that you can pair with complementary bag and heels?

Britney Spears

When Britney Spears appeared at the 2001 American Music Awards in a denim dress, the singer captured so much attention for all the right reasons. Back when Britney and Justin were possibly the most famous celebrity couple, the singer’s every fashion movement was scrutinised — and this is perhaps her most iconic. Styled and shaped like a ball gown, Spears’ sleeveless, floor-length dress featured a fitted bodice, metallic belt and even short train to give the impression of jeans-inspired formality. If you love denim or just like alternative takes on standard outfits, try getting the high-street version of this.

Choosing a pinafore or shirt-style dress in light-blue denim will be the perfect way to go if you’re hoping to tone down the formal part of this well-remembered look. Be sure to also use a waist belt to nip you in for a flawless figure outline. Get the ‘dressed up’ look on your next night out by selecting a fitted, mini style that you can pair with stilettos and accessories, or go for a black-denim, shift dress with thin straps for an alternative blend of low-maintenance denim and high-fashion style.

Meghan Markle

When Prince Harry married Meghan Markle earlier this year, 18 million people watched the wedding all across the UK. Many were tuning in to catch the first glimpse of the bride’s wedding gown. But in fact, Markle’s second outfit choice also got people talking. For the evening, the new bride opted for a silk crepe, sleeveless, high-neck gown designed by Stella McCartney that fell flawlessly over her petite frame — and it’s a style that many of us would love to have sitting in our own wardrobes.

Choose a halter-neck, sleeveless look and you’ll be able to elegantly show off your shoulders. This style works best when the skirt of your dress is midi or even maxi, to get the ideal level of skin exposure. Of course, you don’t have to stick to white. Purple is a big colour this fashion season and slipping on a pair of simple, mid-heels and only a few pieces of jewellery — perhaps droplet earrings and a small selection of matching rings — will let you harness the chic, understated vibe of this style. If you have a more casual event, go for a shorter skirt or one with a high/low frill hem.

How To Replicate The World's Most Iconic Dresses

Confessions of a New Mummy

When it comes to your career, it’s only natural for things to change. When you’re a young professional, your career can often be the most important thing to you. But when you have a family, it can be natural that you then put your family first. So, a lot of the time, your career becomes a job, and you either go part-time or you stop working altogether. And that’s very normal when you just want to be around your family more than anything else. But what happens when your children are growing, going to school, and you want to look at the career options you have once again? Sometimes, you know that you’re ready to go back full-time. But when you’ve been out of work for a while, you wonder if this is even going to happen for you. So let’s take a look at some things can help you.

Full-Time

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Getting More Experience

So first of all, one thing that may help you, is to build up your experience. So when you are at home, or when you’re working part-time, is there a key project that you can work on to help you? Sometimes, coming up with a project related to your career that you can add to your CV will help. You may not have the experience in a work setting, but you can create your own professional setting to help you to do this.

Starting Your Own Business

Another thing that you can do, is start you own business in your own time. Maybe you have a few hours a day to get something started? Then why not start off slowly and build up. Then, you could take this full-time when the time is right.

Full-Time

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Increasing Your Education

Then, you may also want to think about boosting your education. A lot of the time, when you’re able to learn something new, and gain more skills that can help you in your career. Whether you want to do an online master in education in your own time to further your current field or enter a new one, or whether you want to do a vocational course to learn skills for a new field, this can work. When you boost your knowledge, it can open more doors for you.

Network

Now, you’re also then going to want to think about ways you can network online to get opportunities. Think about building your LinkedIn profile here to help you. Then connect with people in your field to see what kind of opportunities may come your way.

Prove Your Worth

And finally, when it comes to applying for the the jobs that you’re interested in getting, you need to be able to get noticed. So, when it comes to pulling your resume together, or building your online profile, you need to be able to stand out to hiring managers. To do that, you need to show that you’re worth hiring. Don’t just say it. So make sure that you’re thinking of all the different things that you’ve done in the past and more recently to be able to get the full-time opportunity that you want.

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