The first day I met Alan I was sort of in shock, really, and feeling naturally terribly nervous. I knew a lot about Alan and I'd seen some pictures of him. He'd heard of me too. I'd made him a little book about myself, my family and my home, and I knew that his foster mother, whom Alan called Nanny, had been going through the book with him. In the book I'd written 'Hello, my name is Julia,' but Nanny, who knew better, had apparently been saying to him, 'Look, Alan, that's Mummy.' Now, Alan had never really called anyone else Mummy. He'd had regular contact with his birth mother. But she didn't figure much in his life. He knew other children had mummies, because his friends at nursery school had mummies who came to collect them at the end of each session. How was he to know what mummies were and how was he to know they didn't just turn up one day out of the blue and claim their little boys, just as I was about to?
When I arrived at the foster family's home, I trembled as I knocked on the door. Nanny opened it, we said hello and then suddenly there was little Alan, bright as a button and very excited. 'Who’s this?' Nanny asked. 'It's Mummy,' cried Alan.
I was astonished at this bright little chap who knew I was his mummy. When I remember that moment, in my head it's like one of those romantic wedding pictures that you see, where the couple are in the centre of the picture and they're framed by a sort of blurry line that suggests the mists of time or whatever. The truth is that he came running to the door, with a bottle of sugary drink dripping all over him. He had something horrible and sticky all round his mouth and his nappy, a frankly rather stinky one, was hanging off him. Somehow, although it must have registered somewhere in my memory, I didn't notice that at the time. Love at first sight? Yes, I think so.
Julia adopted Alan as a single parent. You can read more about her adoption story in Flying Solo.