Saturday my book, Mexican Takeaway came to life. It has been in physical existence for a few months now with lots of high profile media coverage. However it needed a proper blessing, from all the people – family, friends, colleagues past and present – who have supported not just the book but the cause of Adoption With Humanity.
I had been stressed about it. I had cried and lost sleep over it, and then at 4pm an incredible sense of calm pervaded me. As I stepped out of the car Gaia, took my hand and said, ‘Come on mamma we are late, my best friends must already be there.’ So we ran and laughed, there was calm and smiles and giggles.
And so it was that people from far and not so far joined together in what was one of the most special moments in my life. Some had travelled to Waterstones in Chiswick from their homes nearby. Others had taken planes from Amsterdam, Paris, Rome and Mexico. Even the ones who couldn’t be there ensured their presence; my soul sister Lisa sending me flowers in the colours of the Mexican flag.
I realised that seven out of ten lead characters in the book were there! There was family of course, my gorgeous son Luca arrived with two sets of grandparents, my darling niece Lucia, my brother in law and his wife and my husband Rick who has made this incredible journey with me. Some didn’t tell me they were coming like former flatmates from Rome, Alex, Gianluca and Hani. There was my other soul sister Shannon, Oscar who’d been instrumental in editing my letters to the Mexican authorities, colleague Manny and former colleague Tascha. There was my Italian mummy group – Susy, Laura and Nicoletta who all arrived en famille as did Stevan, the adoption panel member who himself has adopted. And the mythical Patti, great friend and my children’s second (or third?) mother. There were Gaia’s best friends Isla and Lyla with their wonderful parents, and the wonderful Paco (with me in pic) and Lorena, Luca’s godparents who had travelled from Mexico to join us in this special occasion.
Later at the party the numbers swelled. My inspirational and self-effacing friend Miff who has adopted three siblings from the UK came with her husband Steve. Cecile from International Adoption arrived with her little Russian boy. There was Annabel and Ben, who DJ’d all night with Rick, Carol and John and their Thai daughter and my pal Kasia complete with Si, three year old Henry and baby bump. Peter, the brilliant designer of my book cover, logos and websites joined us as did Lena, an writer and author who also advised me on the book. Even with all these people I missed my brothers. I will be seeing them this coming week in Rome when we christen little Luca but I felt incomplete not having them there. But Aurora, the remarkable woman who told me that day that she would make my hopes of a baby come true, will not be.
At the party held at High Road House in Chiswick people drank spicy Tequila shots, ate guacamole and tacos and put faces to names they’d only heard or read about. There was much exclaimation around the room of “Oh that’s you!!”
It took me a couple of hours to settle down to something resembling a pause. I realised that not only were we at least twenty nationalities in total, we were all united in our respect and love for children. We were single parents of both sexes, adopters of children both domestically and internationally, adoptees, natural parents of children, godparents, grandparents, aunties, child-minders, uncles and playmates. I felt honoured and humbled by this most amazing collection of people all of whom joined me for what was much more than a book signing. All of them have been a part of the journey Rick and I have taken, and many are involved in helping me campaign for adoption reform which will be momentous for the UK.
I had no idea where I was going where I started. I have a better idea now but there is much to be done. I am already adding a few chapters for the new edition, and a new epilogue to reflect the arrival of my son Luca and the progress of Adoption with Humanity. In a few weeks I will fly back during our family holiday for a day to join a meeting at The Times offices to discuss adoption reforms.
It all feels pretty mad. When everyone was waved off, and the visitors were long asleep Rick and I went upstairs. Walking past a box I said, “Gosh so many books still to sell.”
Rick corrected me. “This was never about selling books Fra. It was about positive change for children who deserve a shot in life. Your job has only just begun: it will be hard but I am behind you. Now go to sleep will you?”.