Being Traced 

I grew up knowing I was adopted - a chosen one! I used to ask questions about where I came from or why I wasn't wanted, but my parents always told me that I WAS wanted - very much so.  I often wondered who I looked like too.  Nature or nurture?  You know the saying that owners begin to resemble their pets and vice versa?  Well I think there is something to be said for that in adoptees too.  I'm very like my mum in mannerisms and looks!

I'd often thought about tracing my birth parents but it was always the wrong time or situation and ultimately I didn't want to upset Mum and Dad by doing so.  They were my parents and that was all there was to it.

Funnily enough, when I gave birth to my son, my firstborn, I didn't feel such a need to go looking any more.  I had a blood relative and I truly belonged to someone.  So I never got round to looking.

In February 2004 a letter dropped through my door.  On the envelope it had a stamp with the word "BirthLink" on it and I froze!  It could only allude to one thing, but I had always thought that a birth mother couldn't trace a child they had given up for adoption.  Not once did it ever enter my head that a birth sibling could though!

Ripping open the letter, with my hands shaking, I read the contents. 

"Dear Mrs .....

I do hope you don't mind me writing to you as we have recently received an enquiry which I would like to give you information about.  Whilst the matter is not urgent, it is of a personal nature and I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss it with you."

I dropped the letter out of sheer shock!!

However, I'm a very inquisitive girl and curiosity easily got the better of me, so I called the lady whose name was at the foot of the letter.

She was very pleasant to talk to and immediately asked me if I knew what it was concerning.  When I said yes that I was fully aware of the concern of the letter she went on to tell me that I had a sister who was trying to trace me.  Wow!!  Talk about a bolt from the blue!

She gave me some basic information - her name, age, date of birth and a brief description of how she looked and her family details.  Then she told me what my birth details were - my birth name, my birth mother's name and how my birth father claimed to have fathered both of us.  Double Wow!  A full birth sister!  Then she asked if I had any questions.  Did I ever!

Was our birth mother still alive?  No
When did she die and how?  1995 but no details how or where
What was my birth mothers name?  Dorothy
What was my birth fathers name?  Alfred
Was he still alive? Yes
How can I get in touch with my sister?  They would contact her again and tell her that I was willing to make contact and she was to forward a letter to them, which they in turn would forward to me - and then I could write back via them to her.

Oh God!! I'd just acquired a full sister, a brother in law and two young nephews within a few minutes phone call!!

What on earth was I going to tell my parents?  I didn't know what to do.  On the one hand I so didn't want to hurt their feelings, but on the other hand, I hadn't gone looking for this - it had landed on my doorstep!  I kept quiet about it for the time being, but I did tell my big sister who was extremely supportive!


 First Contact

 At the end of February I received another letter - this time from Morag, my birth sister.  What a wonderful letter she sent me.  She told me all about herself and her adoption circumstances.  She had grown up and still lived in West Lothian, her dad was a minister and her mum had died when Morag was 10 years old, and her granny had helped to bring her and her brother up.  She told her likes and dislikes at school and what she did for a living.  Her husband was a joiner and she had two boys.  She went on to say that she had started researching and trying to find our birth parents in around 1997 and had similar feelings to me regarding not wanting to upset parents.  She told me that our birth mother had died in 1995 somewhere in England and that our birth father, who was quite a bit older than Dorothy, lived in Elgin. And the best bit - she enclosed some photographs of herself when she was a wee girl, growing up, her now and her family!  I'd just seen for the very first time my sister!

I wrote back to her straight away and reciprocated all the information that she'd given me, and enclosed photographs of me and my kids for her to see.  I also put my name, address and phone number at the top of the letter.

Within about a fortnight, I got a phone call!  It was Morag!  We chatted on the phone for absolutely ages talking about everything and made an arrangement to meet.

Now I had to tell mum and dad!

They were absolutely brilliant about it and with plenty of reassurance from me, they looked forward to hearing all the news that I was about to find out.

 Mum was still my mum and nothing would ever change that! 

 First Meeting

 We arranged to meet one evening over in South Queensferry and mum and dad came to babysit for me.  I had looked out lots of photographs to take with me to show her but that was really all I had.  I couldn't wait to see all the information that Morag had!

I was so excited about meeting her.  And nervous too.  A dream could be shattered here.  What if we didn't get on or didn't like each other - there were no guarantees of a happy ending!  I stood nervously waiting for her and when she parked her car and walked towards me I just knew we would be fine.  We hugged and laughed and then settled in the pub for an evening of information overload!


 Throughout our time getting to know each other at the beginning we made lots of discoveries.  And there were many coincidences too.

Her brother was gay, as was one of mine.  I had been named after my maternal grandfather, therefore theoretically having a boys name and Morag's birth name was after our maternal grandmother.  I also called my youngest daughter by a typically known boy's name.  Even more of a coincidence, our maternal grandmother's maiden name was the same name I had given my youngest daughter, but with a slightly different spelling.  Both Morag and I had dimples in our chin (which Alfred had), both our husbands were joiners, our birth father's birthday was the day after mine, our maternal grandparents had run a guest house in Fife about an hour away from where I lived.  And our wedding photographs were uncannily alike!

We discovered that Dorothy had died in 1995, in Surrey, from Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  Her and Alfred had married but subsequently divorced.  He had been married before and had a son and daughter to his first marriage, and Dorothy remarried and had a son.  So now we had 2 half brothers and a half sister!  Both Dorothy and Alfred were only children, so there was no extended family. 

Morag began to get phone calls from Alf on a Friday night, usually after he'd had too much to drink, and she found him quite aggressive in his manner.  Twice I got a phone call from him - both times denying that he was our father, yet both times asking so many questions about my life and had I had a happy upbringing.  He also asked for a photograph of my children which I said no to.  If he was denying that he was indeed my father then what could he possibly want with a photo of my children!  On the final time he called Morag he said that he had our natural birth certificates and some baby photos.  Did we want them?  Apparently he had told Morag this on a number of occasions and she had already said yes that we would like them, but they had never materialised.  On that last occasions she told him she really couldn't care less because she was fed up with him harassing her.  Within days the certificates and photographs arrived on her door step!  There were two sets of pictures - some obviously of one baby and some obviously of the other.  Then there were about 3 that we just couldn't figure out who they were of.  There was one clue though.  In the photography there was a box beside a hospital bed, and it had a label on it.  We tried enlarging the photo, looking at it through a magnifying glass, even looking at it under a microscope!!  With perseverance we eventually managed to make out just enough to figure out which baby it was pertaining to. Me!!  So I now have 3 photos of my birth mother holding me in hospital.  A treasured picture indeed!

Another discovery I managed to make was contacting Dorothy's widower, through Genes Reunited.  I looked up her full name and there it was!  So I sent a discreet and casual contact, saying I had an interest in that surname.  The reply I got was amazing!  It was in fact Dorothy's widower and he was delighted I'd got in touch!  We spoke on the phone and he told me what a marvellous woman Dorothy had been and that she had been forced by Alf to give me up.  They had been having an affair when he was still married to his first wife and he wouldn't allow her to keep a baby.  Hang on though!  He was talking in the singular!  There wasn't just me, there was Morag too!!  Ah!!!  That shocked him slightly!  He had never known about her - just me!  Oops!   However, he told me all about Dorothy and her hobbies and interests, some of which I shared and some of which Mo shared with her.  He also told me that she never forgot my birthday and that she thought of me every day and had hoped that I would get in touch at some point in my life.  That news was both wonderful as well as tinged with sadness. 

For I did indeed get in touch - just too late for her.

He remarried after Dorothy's death and he and his wife sent me some photographs of Dorothy as a young girl and some when she was older.  There is an uncanny resemblance to my middle daughter, who also resembles Morag as a wee girl.  He also sent a photo of Alf.  I personally don't see any resemblances to him (other than the dimple), but some of my friends do.  It was amazing to be able to see photographs of them both though and piece together all the information that we got to complete our jigsaw.

One piece will always remain missing and that's the real reason why - the photograph taken in the hospital shows an obviously loving mother holding her new baby so why on earth would she give that baby away?  Why would she make the same mistake twice, having already given her first baby away?  We'll never know the answers to those questions because the only person that can truly answer them is no longer here.

 The Here and Now

 Thankfully our story has a happy ending, as not every adoptee can claim.  Mum and Dad are happy that I'm in touch with Morag.  We see each other when we can, due to family and work commitments that's not always as often as we would like it to be.  Morag hasn't yet met my parents and brothers and sister, but I'm sure it will happen one day.  It's not been for the want of trying - it just hasn't happened as yet.  I haven't met her dad and brother and I'm not sure that will ever happen.  I have met her husband's family though, at her 40th birthday party last February - and she introduced me to everyone as her sister.  That was a simple comment but one that I will never forget!

I remain in touch with Dorothy's widower through email, although not often.  Our younger half brother got in touch with me on Christmas Day 2007 and I chat with him online sometimes.  Neither Morag nor I have heard from Alf since he sent us our photos and certificates.

But two things do remain constant.

Me and Mo.