I would like to share my story with you and hope that your outcome will be as successful as mine.
I had a great childhood living with loving parents and a sister who was also adopted. I always knew I was adopted and thought it was quite normal. I told everyone who was interested and can’t remember anyone ever having a problem with it. The only time I ever remember being mildly inquisitive of my roots was when I was watching a county cricket match and wondering which side I should support!
It would be true to say that for 50 years of my life I never gave a second thought to my birth parents as I considered my adoptive parents as ‘my parents’ and it was no consequence to me that there may be someone out there who had given me away at birth who might be wondering what became of her little baby.
Thinking back on it, when people asked whether I would ever consider searching for my birth mother, I think I always responded by saying I would somehow feel guilty in doing such a thing while my parents were still alive as I would consider I was being ungrateful and committing treason even by thinking of the possibility.
My dad died over 15 years ago and my mother is now in a Nursing Home suffering from that awful disease dementia, which has resulted in her brain becoming so jumbled that she doesn’t know who I am or what day it is. Life is so cruel.
The road map to my life changed as a result of the TV programme “Who Do You Think You Are”. Having always loved detective stories, I really loved the unexpected facts people were discovering about their ancestors. I purchased the WDYTYA software for my wife, initially thinking it would be fun to trace her tree. Obviously things developed from there and I soon started my adopted parents tree and found interesting tales from their past. As most of you will know, it was addictive; the more I found, the more I wanted to find. Unlike a detective story, there was no end and the e-universe was expanding exponentially.
Wouldn’t it be fun to see if I could find out a bit about my birth parents and where my birth roots were? Having lived and been brought up in the affluent suburbs of North London, in a happy and middle class family, I considered myself to be the quintessential Englishman and the only question in my mind was whether I was a man of Kent or Sussex or even perhaps Surrey. It was never a possibility that my research would result in finding 75% of my roots as being Scottish with a splash of Irish thrown in! Perish the thought.
In January last year I applied for access to my birth records and had my initial meeting with Social Services to be given that oh so crucial birth certificate. I was then in a position to use my experience of tree building to start a new tree from scratch. It was surprisingly easy although this was partly due to ‘luck’ in that my birth mother and seemingly her entire family had lived, married and died in roughly the same area of the country for well over 50 years.
Anyway, by May I had mapped out my birth mother’s tree and then on 2nd June 2006 at about 10.00 in the evening, I found her, her husband and a son on the Electoral Role with an address and telephone number. Wow!! This was the point at which this was no longer an academic exercise. What had been names on bits of paper suddenly became real, live people.
What to do now? I hadn’t believed I would find her and if I did I never considered she might be alive. I had and she was!
I was 98% certain she was my birth mother although there was still that small element of doubt in the back of my mind. Having decided after much deliberation to make first contact via Social Services, a very general letter was sent to her. Amazingly, she called them the same day as she received the letter and I subsequently sent her a brief synopsis of my life story and some photo’s of myself and family. Two days later on 14th October 2006 my half sister phoned me! Unless you have experienced that moment, it is impossible to explain the excitement and expectation generated by speaking to a complete stranger who sounded so familiar.
Everything moved pretty fast after that. I met my birth mother and two half sisters in November and subsequently met two of my three half brothers in January this year. My birth mother is a lovely lady who was just 17 when I was born. She was given no alternative but to have me adopted as being an unmarried mother in the 1950’s was unacceptable. Her parents were not supportive of her predicament in any sense of the word.
Until that fateful day in October, apart from my birth mother, her husband and one of my half sisters, nobody else in her family had been aware of my existence. Everyone has been very supportive and positive about our reunion (is that the right word ?) which has been rewarding for both of us. I have no regrets either over the fact it took me more than 50 years to make contact or that I now have the benefit (?) of having two families. Fate is a funny thing.
Where is the 75% Scottish connection you ask ? I have discovered that my birth grandmother and her ancestors were Scottish (with my great-great-great grandparents having come over from Ireland in the mid 1800’s) and been told my birth father, who I have not yet traced, is (allegedly) 100% Scottish. My search on that side of the tree is still in academic mode but I will eventually find out more. Whether I would take it any further is unknown at this stage.
I am very aware of those of you out there who don’t find their mothers, or if they do, get rejected. I am very lucky and part of that luck was down to taking advice from those who were not as lucky as me. They may not appreciate what effect they are having on other people’s lives just by being sympathetic, listening and giving sage advice when asked.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story and I wish you all well.