Adopting older children can be the start of a special bond

For one mother, a potentially challenging choice turned out to be amazingly fulfilling

When Margaret Reynolds was in her mid-40s, she was a successful writer, academic and broadcaster. One winter’s morning, she asked herself what she would like in her life that she did not already have. The answer was clear and quick: she realised she’d like to have a child. She wanted to be a mother. She was single and had just gone through an early menopause. She decided she would adopt, but this proved to be a long, sometimes difficult journey during which she found herself asking big, far-reaching questions about identity and nationality; about what it means to belong, and what it means to be a parent and a child.

Now, 12 years later, Reynolds, who goes by Peggy, and her daughter Lucy are talking to me over Zoom from their cottage in the Cotswolds, the paws of their dog clacking on the floor in the background. Lucy is 18, articulate and passionate about the adoption system and what the role of the child should be within that process. She had recently been on her gap year – “‘gap’ being the operative word,” says Peggy, laughing – in London, volunteering for a charity called Body & Soul. “They work with children who have had adverse childhood experiences, including adoption, so it’s very on theme,” Lucy says. She is spending the third lockdown back at home.

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