At five months old, I was deserted by my Mother and left in an orphanage, though was soon adopted into a white family in Kent. I had been rejected by my own black parents. Now I was facing racist comments in my new white environment. So where did I belong?
The relationship with my adopted parents was unhappy; adoption didn’t work for me. At about seven, I decided that I was no longer going to cry myself to sleep every night; instead I was going to survive. I started fighting, became stronger and—to prevent further emotional pain—stopped caring. At eleven, I started to think about why I existed. Even at that age, I was attracted by politics but soon decided that wasn’t going to solve my problems or the world’s. By the time I was fourteen, I decided life was actually about love but I didn’t love anyone and nobody loved me. I was wasting my time staying alive. I wasn’t depressed. I just didn’t see any point in living. I decided it was time to end it all. But, thankfully, those thoughts never led to action all because my sister didn’t want to go on holiday alone.
Each year, all over the UK, there are hundreds of activity holidays run by Christians for young people. I liked camping so my parents didn’t need to do too much persuading to get me to keep my sister company. One of the best things was that there were boys as well as girls at our camp. One night I was watching a good looking guy who had caught my interest. . It was a dark, star-filled night and he was looking up at the sky. When I looked up, too, for the first time in my life, I just knew God existed. Before that, I wouldn’t have said I was an atheist. I just didn’t care. But now I somehow knew that God was real. I didn’t want to become a Christian and in my head I conducted an argument. I told God what I thought about Christians and about the church. I told him I wasn’t interested.
‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim…’
In my own mind it seemed that God was saying to me, ‘Don’t look at the church, don’t look at Christians, look at me’. And at that point I said, ‘Alright! You can have my life’. That was the deal. And I have never lost my conviction that God was real.
However things didn’t suddenly become easy. I was only fifteen and had to keep living with my adopted parents. I did grow in my faith while asking questions of the God I knew existed but sometimes seemed so very far away.
‘Why did you allow my mother to do this to me?’
‘Why did you allow me to grow up with such rejection?’
But my problems were to get a lot worse. Once I was studying in London, I decided to try and trace my birth parents. That came close to destroying me.