Life

Radio review: Alex Kane's thoughtful decision on revisiting his childhood trauma

Nuala McCann

Before I was an orphan Stories in Sound Radio Ulster

I wanted to know the ending. I wanted that sense of a circle completed, a story neatly tied up.

But this is real life. It's no fairy tale.

Alex Kane, journalist, commentator, proud and happy husband and father of three has no recollection of the first six years of his life.

He was in a children's home in Portadown until he was adopted at six. It was clear that he was very traumatised.

His first memory is of a teddy bear left on his bed in his new adoptive home – but he hid that bear under the bed for the first year – always checking to see it was there but afraid to trust it, to take it out and sleep beside it.

And as time went on, he had ups and downs but he had a happy childhood despite the trauma of his early years.

It's clear he loved his adoptive parents very much.

He has thought about going back – and he has toyed with requesting his social services file to find out more about his childhood.

Perhaps having children sends you back again to your beginnings.

We followed him to the public records office and to the children's home in Portadown.

A friend who is a psychiatrist told him that he had clearly locked out what happened to him as a child.

It still revisits – at least once every two weeks he wakes screaming from nightmares where he is locked in a dark place and terrified.

I wanted to know the truth – to find out about the woman who gave birth to him on August 13, 1955 and what led to his being in the orphanage.

But this is his life story and there is a quiet wisdom in letting things sit.

He decided not to open that file – he would leave it for his wife, Kerrie and their children after his death, if they wanted to know.

And the beauty of the story was in the frank telling – the raw pain and the courage to say things as they are... and accept things too.

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