Judith Fautless; ‘Adopting my son was the best thing I ever did.’
- Credit: Archant
The Thick of It actress talks about her play, Boo Hoo, showing at the Hen and Chickens Theatre
Five years ago, actor and comedy writer Judith Faultless plucked up the courage to attend an adoption open evening at Islington Town Hall.
It was the start of an emotional journey which has culminated in Boo Ho, a no-holds barred one woman show exploring the dilemmas faced by a childless single woman, and the emotional roller-coaster of adoption.
“I was 40 and single and hadn’t met the right person,” says Faultless.
“Like a lot of women in that position, I was strongly focused on my career and thinking there was still time for family and children.
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“Then I looked around and realised time was running out.”
Faultless, one half of comedy duo Faultless and Torrance who as appeared in the likes of The Thick of it, Spy and Radio 4’s Bearded Ladies wrote Boo Hoo because of what she says is an absence of role models for single women who want to establish a meaningful life for themselves.
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“Society, and the media in particular, tend to promote marriage and having children in that context as the ideal way to be fulfilled,” she says.
“But I wanted to suggest there are good alternatives to the norm. My experience of adoption is a happy story and I wanted to tell it.”
However, her first encounter with the adoption system at the open evening was daunting.
“I was sure when I walked in the door, they were going to think ‘we’re never going to be able to place a child with a woman like her’,” Faultless says.
“The room was full of perfect looking couples, a lot of them younger than me, who made me feel inadequate.”
But as she progressed with the adooption process, Faultless realised first impressions were deceptive.
“Behind all these happy looking couples there was a reason for them being there, just like for me” she says.
“I realised I had made false assumptions about them and that many had painful stories.”
For instance, Faultless got to know couples who had faced years of infertility and women who were dealing with health problems, like heart conditions, which meant they couldn’t go through a pregnancy.
As we talk, she breaks off periodically to attend to her four year old son who is playing happily in the background.
It sounds like they are having fun.
But before she was brought together with the little boy - ten months old when she adopted him - she sometimes doubted she would ever become a mother.
“There are times when you think they won’t accept you,” she says.
“You are at the mercy of experts who have the power to decide whether you are suitable or not.
“It’s something that matters to you so much, but you have to accept their decision.”
And the stress doesn’t end once a would-be parent is matched with a child.
“You worry whether it will work out,” says Faultless. “There are a million unknowns.
“You are putting yourself into a vulnerable position but also, in my case, you are responsible for a tiny child.”
Boo Hoo doesn’t shy away from describing the more painful aspects of its author’s life.
“It’s very honest about parts of me that were quite dysfunctional when I was in my early 40s, when I was unhappy, and wondering what to do with my life,” she says.
But the show isn’t downbeat.
“It’s turned out funnier than I expected. I set out thinking I was going to write my first serious drama, but in fact it’s turned out quite comic.
“I think it’s because comedy is my way of approaching things – I often laugh at myself and can see when I’m being absurd.”
For all the angst and pain connected with adoption Faultless describes, says she’s never been happier.
“On an emotional level, adopting my son is the best thing I ever did because it makes me feel settled and that everything is as it should be,” she says.
Boo Hoo runs for two nights at the Hen and Chickens theatre, Islington, on August 16th.