A woman whose marriage broke up the day before she was due to meet her adopted children has spoken of the pain of discovering she would no longer be their mother.
Alice Readman, 55, from Bali, had her dreams of motherhood shattered overnight after the end of her relationship with her husband of five years, ‘Andy’.
The couple, who lived together in England, split the day before they were due to meet their two adopted children – and the next morning, when Alice called her social worker to inform them of the split, she was told she wouldn’t be going . may continue the adoption as a single parent.
Too upset to stay in her marital home, Alice soon moved in with her sister. She recalled, “I was constantly telling my family that I was fine. But I was also in deep shock. I couldn’t sleep at night and during the day I felt like I was dying.
Alice Readman (pictured with her husband), 55, who now lives in Bali, was separated for 28 days after losing her marriage and her dreams of motherhood overnight.
“My heart was racing all the time. Physically, I even started bleeding, as if I was going through a third miscarriage. To me, these were all my children, and I had lost them,’ Alice admitted.
After her life spiraled out of control, she was eventually placed under the Mental Health Act for 28 days – before she was later found to have an ‘acute stress reaction’ from the circumstances.
But to add insult to injury, Alice then fell victim to a con artist who attacked her while she was in the psych ward.
Alice met her husband through a mutual friend. They enjoyed a whirlwind romance before tying the knot.
Although Alice describes them as “chalk and cheese” in terms of personality, they had one thing in common: a desire to start a family.
In her twenties, Alice traveled the world as the bass player for the indie band The Authors. Her then-boyfriend Luke Haines was the front man. But even then, she knew that one day she would settle down and start a family.
Since she was already over 40 when she married Andy, they discussed the possibility of adoption if she didn’t get pregnant.
She was over the moon to get pregnant shortly after the wedding, but tragically, she miscarried after six weeks. A second pregnancy the following year ended the same way.
In 2012, when Alice was 44, she and Andy decided to start the adoption process. Two years later, they were approved to adopt and match with siblings, a three-year-old girl and an 18-month-old boy.
To introduce themselves to the kids, the couple put together an album of photos of them doing fun things like painting and hanging out on the beach.
Alice’s (pictured) life spiraled out of control after she and her husband, ‘Andy’, split the day before they were due to meet their adopted children
‘When we in turn saw pictures of the children together, I immediately felt a connection with them,’ explains Alice. “It was like winning the lottery. I already felt like their mother.’
In the final stages of the process, Alice and Andy met the children as part of a two-week transfer process.
During the first week, they visited the children in their foster home, gradually building up the time they spent with them and helping with their daily care.
For the last week, the children would move into the couple’s house with the help of their foster mother.
“We had their bedrooms ready and filled with toys,” Alice recalls. “Everything was ready and waiting for them.”
In the weeks leading up to the adoption, the couple had one last vacation in Greece before becoming parents. However, the day before they were due to adopt, the couple separated and the adoption fell through.
Alice moved into her sister’s house. One day she was with her sister when her phone started ringing. Convinced that her calls were being tapped, she threw away her phone.
“My sense of security was literally blown out of me and I became paranoid,” says Alice. Because her sister couldn’t handle her erratic behavior, Alice went to stay with a friend.
Alice met her husband through a mutual friend. They enjoyed a whirlwind romance before tying the knot
But unbeknownst to her, her family had given her boyfriend strict instructions not to let her leave the house.
Then, as she headed into town, her boyfriend’s husband called emergency services, worried she was about to run into oncoming traffic.
As a result, an appointment was made for her to see a psychiatrist, but when she walked into his office, a sense of terror seized her and she ran into the street.
‘I know my friends and family tried to help me,’ Alice explains, ‘but at the time I didn’t feel they were on my side.’
After fleeing her appointment, she was once again apprehended by the police and ambulance services and this time told she was being taken to a psychiatric ward. “I didn’t resist,” Alice recalls. “I let out a big scream and gave in.”
While on the ward, she was forced to take medications commonly given to people with bipolar disorder and to be on suicide watch, which meant checking her every half hour morning and night.
Her mental health continued to deteriorate, she suffered a severe panic attack and her blood pressure shot up to dangerous levels.
After 10 days, she got a lawyer and applied to get out of the ward, which was successful, though she agreed to stay on the ward for another week so she could gradually get used to the outside world.
One day, after lunch outside the door, she went to the hospital cafeteria where she chatted with a fellow patient named ‘Jamie’, who told her that he had voluntarily admitted himself after being found on a bridge that was about was jumping off.
“He told me he had recently lost his father,” says Alice. “My heart went out to him.”
In her twenties, Alice (recently pictured) traveled the world as a regular member of the indie band The Authors. Her then-boyfriend Luke Haines was the frontman. But even then, she knew that one day she would settle down and start a family
Jamie offered Alice a sympathetic ear and she agreed to accompany him on a night out.
“We were in a bar when he told me he called the unit and pretended to be my brother,” Alice recalls. “He told me I was staying with relatives.”
The pair booked a hotel, which Alice paid for, and that night their relationship turned physical. As they left the unit, Jamie announced he had nowhere to stay, so they booked another hotel together, which was also covered by Alice.
“He took me to his father’s grave and the graves of other deceased relatives,” she says. “Looking back on it, I think it was all a lie. He was an excellent manipulator and played the victim card to get hold of me.’
Jamie managed to work his way into sharing Alice’s former marital home. He also borrowed money and promised to pay it back when his inheritance came in.
At one point, the couple traveled to London, where Alice thought Jamie was taking her abroad for the Christmas holidays.
“He told me his daughter would meet us at the airport and give him his passport, but it was not surprising that she did not show up and the trip never went through.”
Over the course of their six-month relationship, Alice spent around £10,000 on hotels and loans, which were never paid back.
She says: ‘Even when I was sure Jamie was lying to me, I was too afraid to go to the police or tell my family and friends in case I was sectioned again. I kept giving him money and asking him to leave, but he always came back.’
In the end, Alice told her sister everything and then reported Jamie to the police, who advised her to change her locks and message him asking him to stop contacting her.
Too scared to return home, she stayed with her sister for a month, where she began the long road to recovery by practicing yoga, meditation and breathwork.
When her blood pressure returned to normal, she decided to leave the UK.
“I had to find a new reason to be,” Alice explains, “and I wanted to absorb the splendor of mountains and beautiful sunsets.”
In January 2017, she was in India when the police called her to ask if she would testify about her relationship with Jamie, which she had documented in her diary, along with all the money she had loaned him.
It turned out that he had scammed several other women, both in the UK and abroad, and deliberately targeted vulnerable women. He pleaded guilty, meaning Alice didn’t have to go to court, and was sentenced to four years behind bars.
Today, Alice lives in Bali, where she has trained in sound therapy and leads personalized retreats in Bali.
She has written a memoir about her experiences to reassure others that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
‘I think a lot of people will relate to the isolation and shame I felt,’ says Alice. “I’m talking about it now because it’s the sort of thing that often gets swept under the rug.
“What happened to me I wouldn’t wish on anyone else. I was locked up for what my therapist called a normal reaction to an abnormal situation, but I’ve made peace with that now and that I’m not a mother.
“I feel like this was the life I was meant to live and my goal is to help others through their own dark times,” she concluded.
Andy and Jamie’s names have been changed.
Alice’s memoir, I Am Alice: Break up, Breakdown, Breakthrough. A True Adventure Story is available for purchase on Amazon. See travelwithalice.com for more information on Alice’s work
For confidential support, call Samaritans at 116123 or visit samaritans.org.