May 31, 2009

Pregnant After Rape...A Reunion

Pregnant after being raped at 14, June was forced to give away her
baby - what happened when they were reunited 40 years later?
29th May 2009

When June Redman picked up her phone to dial the number of the son she
had given up for adoption more than 40 years earlier, her natural
excitement was overshadowed by one awful thought.

What would she say when he asked who his father was? Would it be fair
to tell the truth and confess that his father was a vicious rapist? Or
would it be better to lie and say he was dead?

The dilemma forced June to relive the devastating rape which left her
pregnant at the age of 14 and which her family demanded she forget.

So it was with trepidation that she dialled the number of the son she
had not seen since he was a baby.

'When Paul answered the phone, I said "Hello" and introduced myself,'
says June. 'I was overcome with emotion from hearing his voice and I
said: "I can't believe it's really you."

'My next thought was to say: "Is there anything you'd like to ask me?"
I felt somehow his questions were more important than mine.'

After a brief pause, Paul simply asked: 'Who's my father?'

'I said I wasn't really sure and then blurted out that he was a
stranger who had raped me. In that moment, I feared he would reject

'Here was my long-lost son, who I'd thought about every single day
since giving him up, and I was telling him his father was a rapist.

'I knew he would be horrified and was terrified he would put the phone
down and never want to talk to me again.'

After a stunned silence, Paul, with remarkable understanding, said to
his mother that he had often wondered if such an event had led to his

June, 58, continues: 'He didn't ask me anything else about the rape
and I had no idea how he was really feeling.

'I decided to quickly change the subject and ask him about his own
life. I was so relieved when Paul asked to meet. I felt that would be
a much better way to discuss why he had been adopted.'

A few days after their conversation, Paul emailed her some photos.

'Until then, the only picture I had of Paul was one taken of him at
eight weeks old,' says June, a retired retail manager from Runcorn,

'On the one hand I wanted to see how he looked as an adult. On the
other, I was terrified he would look nothing like my family - but like
his father.

'But a childhood photo he had sent of himself with bright blond hair
was indistinguishable from my middle son Stewart.'

The pair arranged to meet at a pub close to his home in Wilmslow,

She says: 'From the moment he walked in, all I could do was stare at
him. I even apologised for staring too much. I wanted to hug him but,
fearing he wasn't ready for it, I forced myself just to smile and say

'I was overwhelmed by how much he looked like my side of the family,
and pleased that he did not in any way remind me of the rapist, whose
features I had somehow successfully managed to push from my mind.

'We talked solidly for two hours. I was desperate to find out
everything about him. I was determined not to think about his father
but, if I'm honest, there were moments when he crossed my mind.

'For example, when Paul told me that he suffered from both glaucoma
and scoliosis (curvature of the spine), I immediately assumed he must
have inherited both conditions from his father, as there is no history
of either in my family.

'But I didn't worry that he would have inherited behavioural traits
from his birth father. I am a firm believer in nurture over nature and
I could instinctively tell he was a kind and gentle man.

'I also never doubted that I would love him, as I still loved the baby
I'd held in my arms 40 years before.

'Paul was too shy to say it outright, but I could tell he was thrilled
to meet me and was full of questions about his half-brothers.

June was a 14-year-old schoolgirl when, in December 1965, she was
attacked and raped by a stranger as she walked back home from a
friend's house in Liverpool, one dark evening.

Dishevelled and shaking with shock and fear, she told her mother, who
took her to the police.

'I was distraught, but the police were dismissive and cold,' she
recalls. 'The attitude back then was that a girl was to blame if she
was raped. What was even worse was that my mum seemed to feel the same

June and Paul at their first meeting: June said the day was one of the
happiest of her life

Over the following weeks, a police doctor gave June regular medical
examinations, and two months later tests revealed she was pregnant.

'When I was told, I remember feeling as if I was watching it happen to
someone else,' says June.

'All I knew about sex was what I'd heard in the playground and I
hadn't really realised I might fall pregnant as a result of the rape.
My family were very traditional and sex was a taboo subject in our

'I couldn't stop crying, but my mother's reaction was to be extremely
uptight and distant.'

Terrified her daughter's plight would bring shame on their family,
June's mother sent her to a home for expectant teenagers in Chester,
run by nuns.

'No one asked me how I felt about what had happened and I had
absolutely no choice in the matter. My mother and a welfare worker
said I had to go, and so that's what I did,' explains June.

'I was obviously traumatised by what had happened, but times were very
different then. I wasn't offered any rape counselling. All I could do
was block out the horrific memories of that night.'

Housed in a dormitory with six other pregnant girls, June spent her
days washing and ironing all the clothes and bedding for the girls,
babies and nuns.

'I'd never been away from home except to visit an aunt in Yorkshire
for a week,' says June.

'The atmosphere was bleak. Nobody visited me. No one told me anything
- nothing about the changes my body would go through or what to expect
from labour.

'I just watched the other girls in the home get bigger, disappear and
come back with a baby instead of a bump and presumed the same thing
would happen to me.

'All the focus was on the shame I would bring on my family if anyone
were to know about my secret.'

To this day, June has no idea if the police made any effort to catch
her rapist. Her parents refused point blank to discuss it with her and
both are now dead.

'My mother completely shut down over what happened to me,' says June.
'She was an austere woman and we had never been close. Of course, I
wanted to know what had happened but didn't dare ask and she didn't
volunteer the information.'

In August 1966, June was induced at Chester City Hospital and Paul was
born, weighing 7lb 6oz.

As soon as she held him, she felt an overwhelming rush of love. 'I
fell head over heels in love with him. It never crossed my mind that I
wouldn't be able to keep him. I named him Paul Anthony after a cousin
of mine.

'I was a very naive 14-year-old. I'd been told not to think about the
rape, so I tried not to.

'Now I had this baby and, like any mum, I couldn't help but adore him.
As far as I was concerned, despite what his father did, he was always
innocent. But when my mother finally came to visit, she wouldn't even
look at the baby.'

June spent three months at the home caring for and bonding with her
baby, blissfully unaware that her mother was arranging an adoption.

'I took complete responsibility for Paul and had some of the best days
of my life,' says June.

'I learnt to change him and feed him, and spent hours just gazing at
him. Then, suddenly, the Mother Superior announced I was leaving. I
thought Paul and I were going home to Liverpool to live with my mum.'

But June was taken straight to a hospital in Liverpool, where she was
met by her parents. The moments that followed remain etched on her

'I went into a room and became aware that there was a man and woman in
the next room with a boy who was around two years old.

'Paul was due a feed, so I fed him and changed his nappy, then the
welfare officer said it was time for me to hand him over to the
adoptive parents. I remember looking at him, aghast that I was
expected to hand my baby to strangers.

'I looked pleadingly at my mum, but she just told me to hurry up. I
was made to hand over Paul like he was a parcel. I was so stunned I
couldn't even cry.'

Afterwards, June was taken to a cafe for lunch. To her horror, her
mother pressed her to eat.

'But I felt so sick that I was almost choking,' she remembers. 'Tears
were rolling down my cheeks, but I was told to pull myself together.
My mother even said: "Stop being daft."'

June was warned by her parents not to share her secret with anyone.
She left school and began working in a shop. At 16, she met and fell
in love with Doug, 23, an electrical store manager, and the couple got
engaged in 1968.

Despite her mother's warnings, June told her fiance about her past.

'My mother had always said that no man would marry me if they knew,
but Doug loved me and understood,' she says.

The couple went on to have three sons - Chris, 39, Stewart, 37 and
Douglas, 35 - but thoughts of Paul were never far from her mind.

'I worried about the life he was having. I knew the adoptive parents
had another little boy - the toddler I'd seen with them - and I
comforted myself with the thought that at least he had another child
to play with.

'I was sure they loved Paul and were giving him a good upbringing.'

The passage of time failed to ease June's grief and in 1994 she
stopped talking to her mother, after struggling to come to terms with
the part she had played in Paul's adoption. She died three years

Soon after, June decided it was time to tell her sons about Paul.

'I felt I had a duty to tell my sons the truth and I wanted them to
understand the burden I'd carried with me. My youngest son, Douglas,
seemed to take it all in his stride and hugged and kissed me, saying:
"No matter what, you are still my mum."

'Stewart also took the news well, but for Chris it was harder, as he
always thought he was the eldest.'

For the next ten years, June tried to locate Paul through adoption
forums. Then in December 2005, the law, which until then had stated
that birth parents couldn't apply for information about their adopted
children, changed and gave birth parents the right to trace them.

June contacted the charity After Adoption and two months later, in
August 2007, June received a call saying they had found her long-lost

'I couldn't speak and I was crying with joy,' says June. 'The next
move was for the charity to contact him to see if he was happy to be
in contact with me.

'Fortunately he was, and for the next three months we exchanged
letters and emails before that first meeting in December.'

Paul has since met the rest of June's family. 'He hasn't asked any
more about his father,' she adds. 'I think we both feel that we are so
lucky to have found each other, there is no point dwelling on the

'The most important thing for me has been to tell Paul that I'd never
wanted to let him go and that losing him had broken my heart.

'From my point of view, over four decades have passed since the rape
and time has helped heal the scars.'

Thankfully, says June, Paul had a happy adoption. He always knew he
was adopted and his father, who ran a watch shop, and mother, a nurse,
had provided him with a comfortable upbringing.

Now June, Paul and her sons meet regularly and they talk on the phone
every Saturday morning.

'Last August, the two of us spent his birthday together,' says June.
'It was the sort of simple pleasure that I had almost given up hoping
would ever happen.'

For more information about After Adoption, call 0800 840 2020 or visit

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