Mother and baby home stories

A social history project

St Paul’s home, Coleshill

Share your experience

A forthcoming book will tell the collected tales from mothers and their children whose lives have been impacted by the mother and baby homes in the UK.

In 1978 I was ‘packed off’ to a mother and baby home many miles from where I lived… I had just turned 15 and I didn’t have any choice or say in the matter.

I’m 61 now and I spent my whole life trying to understand what actually happened to me and the other young women in that home.

I’m now writing about the experiences of other women and adult adoptees. It’s extremely important that these deeply personal histories are recorded. My intention is to publish this book, so that a record of our experiences and the impact of what happened to us exists. Surprisingly no such book exists in Britain – as far as I’m aware.

I’m seeking people who wish to share their stories with me. This can be done confidentially if you wish prefer… or however you wish, you can be assured that I will write up your story with empathy and accuracy.

If you’re interested or have any questions about this, I’d love to hear from you. I hope in most cases that I will be able to travel to meet you near your home.

Karen Constantine


Seeking an adoption apology

A few years ago I started a MFA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck University London, researching and writing a girl to teen memoir. In turn this lead me to speaking with other women and adult adoptees, and finding out about the need for an adoption apology. Since then I’ve lobbied for that apology using my political network – I’m a Kent County Councillor (Labour). I’ll continue to do all I can to make this much needed apology a reality.

Karen revisiting St Paul’s home, Coleshill in 2020
Karen revisiting the St Paul’s home, Coleshill in 2020

In January 2024 the BBC invited me on to Sunday Politics South East, which I agreed to do if we discussed the issue of forced adoptions. The 10 minute segment featured Veronica Smith from Seaford who was forced to give up her daughter in the 1960s and is now calling on the government to make an official apology.

I then explained some of what happened to me in 1978 and talked about my conversations with women and adult adoptees. These collected stories will be the foundation for the book which, I hope will bring this ‘hidden’ social scandal out from the shadows.

Rattlechops sample chapter

My memoir, Rattlechops details my time in a Catholic mother and baby home in Coleshill, Birmingham. Just as important is the preceding period at home and at school, where sex education is scant but the pressures to ‘do it’ are all around. These themes appear in conversations I’ve had with other women and I hope to document more stories with different angles in my next book. In the meantime, I have posted a chapter from Rattlechops to give a flavour of my Stoke-on -Trent in the 1970s.

Mock up of the Rattlechops book
Rattlechops paperback mock up, with cover artwork by Sid Kirkham

Get in touch

If you were in a mother and baby home or you are the child of someone who was in a home and you would like to talk about your experience, I’d love to hear from you.
Likewise, if you have information on this topic that you believe will be of interest, don’t hesitate to contact me.


Send me an email:

Phone number

If you’d prefer to chat:
07984 532212


4 Royal Road,
Ramsgate, Kent. CT11 9LE

Further help and support

Issues raised in recalling the past can be sensitive or upsetting. The following organisations may be able to offer support or further information:

PAC-UK – Independent Adoption Support Agency offering: Advice, Support, Counselling & Training. Advice line 020 7284 5879 and 0113 230 2100.

Adoption UK Charity – Information on adoption-related issues and campaigns for improvements to adoption policy and legislation. helpline 0300 666 0006.

Samaritans – Call 116 123 – 24 hours a day.