Word By Richard Barber : Pictures By Alan Olley
I longed for my own baby but my adopted children felt I had betrayed them: Baroness Oona King reveals the guilt amid the joy of her first Christmas as a biological mother
While the arrival of a new baby is a joyous occasion for its parents, it is often deeply unsettling for older siblings. And surely never more so than when the older children in question are adopted, and the new baby is a much-longed-for biological child.
This is the position in which Oona King’s three adopted children found themselves in October, when she had her first natural baby, Tullio. At the time, the 46-year-old Baroness King of Bow, as she’s known in the House of Lords, told the Mail of the excitement she felt at having her first biological child.
She also revealed that she had spent more than £70,000 on six failed IVF attempts after a miscarriage and years of vain attempts to conceive, before adopting three children — a son, eight-year-old Elia, and daughters Kaia, six, and Ariel, two. Even after adopting those beautiful children, Oona dreamed of having her own baby.
The former MP had frozen a clutch of her fertilised eggs years before adopting. When the hospital staff told her they would soon have to destroy the embryos, she was left to make a monumental decision.
And so she and her husband Tiberio resorted to a surrogate. Tullio was created from Oona’s egg and Tiberio’s sperm, but carried by 24-year-old Zarayna Lee. This Christmas was spent as Oona had long dreamed it would be, with her newly-expanded family all around her.
As well as the children, she and Tiberio also celebrated it with his parents and family, plus Oona’s mother and her brother. ‘There were 18 of us: ten adults and eight children,’ she says.
But while there’s much festivity in the King household, Oona confesses to being strict when it comes to Christmas presents for her children.
‘Last year, they were each given £7 and taken to Poundland, where they bought seven presents,’ she says.
And this year? ‘Elia got a Kindle. He’s a voracious reader. Ariel had a Play-Doh sculpture set. And Kaia got a miniature drum set. We must be mad. As though this house weren’t noisy enough already.’
What about Tullio? Was he spoilt?
‘No, Tullio didn’t get anything. His present was being born.’
‘Yes, Christmas felt different, but not because Tullio is our biological child. It was because he’s a newborn baby. And the next two years are going to be really hard. Four children equals four times as much aggro as one child. But it’s also four times as much joy.’
This conflict of emotion is expressed again and again when Oona discusses her family life. While husband and wife were delighted to be blessed with a biological child, she confesses today that the new baby’s arrival has thrown their family into turmoil.
It seems her adopted children — some of whom still bear the scars of their traumatic starts in life — feel that they may have been superseded by their new brother.
‘There was one incident that was like a dagger in my heart,’ says Oona. ‘I’d always had a beautiful picture of Elia and Kaia on my mobile phone’s screensaver. Then everyone was asking me about Tullio, so I decided to use a photo of him instead.
Full Story in Daily Mail
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