A couple of days after I was born, my mother advertised me in a magazine called Nursery World. I've seen the original ad but no longer have access to it. It said something like 'Nigerian baby girl needs new home.' Back then - in the 1970s - literally thousands of west African babies and children were advertised in this way. Not only in Nursery World but also in the Evening Standard and in local newspapers in the Home Counties too. Naturally, these advertisements were like gold dust to paedophiles and other shady types- they could flick through the pages of ads and select children to abuse who met their requirements.
I know very little about the first person who responded to my mother's ad. All I know is that this person sent away for me after seeing the Nursery World ad and my mother duly delivered me to them - somewhere in Somerset. I was about nine days old when I arrived. For reasons as yet unclear, my mother supposedly didn't visit me again for four to six weeks. When she did finally visit me, she was, she's said, appalled by the state I was in. I don't know what is meant by that - it's not clear whether I'd been neglected, abused or was simply unhappy because I was pining for my mum. Anyhow, my mother removed me immediately and took me back to live with her. I would have been about 7 weeks old at this point. But by the time I was 9 weeks old, I was advertised in Nursery World again! This time a white woman in her late 50s, based in West Sussex, replied to the ad and I was sent to live with her when I was 10 weeks old. I called her Nanny. She'd previously fostered two other west African babies who she'd seen advertised in Nursery World - but their birth parents had finally taken them back.
After more than a year with Nanny, who dressed me up like a little princess and seemed delighted to look after me, my real mother took me back, seemingly for good. Nanny was devastated and found a new African baby girl in Nursery World's classified pages and sent away for her. Several weeks later, with her new foster-daughter installed in her home, Nanny was flicking through Nursery World just out of curiosity when she came across an advert that looked very familiar. My reunion with my mother clearly hadn't worked out - she had advertised me in Nursery World for a third time. Nanny sent away for me again and I returned....
More than 30 years later a journalist from Nursery World contacted me to interview me about my history with the magazine. And here's the piece: