Category Archives: True adoption stories

True #adoption story… Jazz Boorman #adoptionstories

Most adopted children do not have face-to-face contact with their birth families. When Amanda Boorman adopted her daughter Jazz, then five years old, she was advised by social workers not to visit the town where Jazz’s birth parents lived. Amanda did the opposite.

Jazz Boorman

Jazz Boorman, aged 14 [photo: Boorman family]

“I wanted to know their story and how things came about, in order to tell the person who was going to be my child about why they had been adopted,” Amanda said to The Guardian. So she made contact and, three years later, introduced Jazz to her birth family. “I knew the risks were disturbing Jazz further – there were no two ways about it, the parenting wasn’t good. I didn’t have a romanticised idea of it. But I wanted to be a bridge between the past and the future. “A four-year-old does know things, more than people give them credit for. She did love her parents. I felt that we’d stolen her as well. A lot of her disturbance I felt was due to being completely removed from the people she’d been sleeping in the same room as for the first four years of her life.”

Read more about Amanda and Jazz’s story in The Guardian article, including the Contact After Adoption website which supports social work practitioners to make after adoption contact plans.

Thanks to her personal adoption experience Amanda, a trained social worker, founded The Open Nest, a charity to support adoptive families. Helping Jazz meet her birth family was a turning point, says Amanda. “Before she thought she was rubbish, that she’d been thrown away, that she’d probably been naughty. That stopped after she met them, her self-esteem went up massively. Just thinking that you’re the product of a bad place is not a healthy thing.”

If you like this true story, read:-
Ramiro Osorio Cristales
Eileen Heron
Jessica Long

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
True #adoption story… Jazz Boorman & her adoptive mother Amanda https://wp.me/paZ3MX-br via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… Annie from #NewYork #openadoption

Annie from New York was 29 when she gave her baby son to be adopted by a gay couple. And because it was an open adoption, she has maintained a relationship with her son and his adoptive parents. Her son is now six years old. open adoption

Annie was originally sceptical about the idea of open adoption, as it was described to her by a social worker. “Between lack of support from the government (no paid maternity leave or universal health care), the lack of support of the biological father, and the fact I had no local support system because my family lived far away, I didn’t have the kind of support at hand that a single parent needs,” she explains.

But she gradually came round to the concept of open adoption. “I’m part of my son’s life and my role in his life is respected by his adoptive family,” Annie tells HuffPost. “My son’s parents are the ones who set up what the parameters of our relationship actually are, they are the ones who control how much access I have to him and what that means. But they have given me a lot of say in our relationship as well.

“The access has evolved over time, in the beginning it was lots of pictures emailed to me, updates via email about once a month and face-to-face visits every two to three months. As he grew up (and began to understand who I was) we had more face-to-face visits. By his fourth birthday I was seeing him at least once a month.”

The decision of how much contact there should be between child and birth parent lies with the adoptive family and the local authorities. And contact doesn’t mean it reduces the loss felt at the original decision to give a child up for adoption. “I still have a depth of difficult emotions I struggle with regarding adoption,” explains Annie. “And seeing my son only complicates that. I’m not trying to appear ungrateful for my relationship with him, but if it was just about my feelings and not what was good for my son I wouldn’t have an open relationship with him. “It’s not an easy path and openness shouldn’t be a reason a woman chooses to relinquish.”

Read more about open adoption at Huffington Post UK.

Read the Family Rights Group’s explanation of open adoption for the UK.

If  you like this true story, read:-
Amy Seek
Bob MacNish
George Orwell, author of ‘1984’ 

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Annie from #NewYork #adoption #truestory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-9c via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… Jessica Long #adoptionstories #Paralympics

Jessica Long is a record-beating US Paralympic swimming star, winning a dozen Paralympic gold medals games in Athens, Beijing and London. Born Tatiana, she was left by her teenage Russian parents at an orphanage in Bratsk, Siberia because they could not cope with her disabilities. A year later she was adopted by American couple Beth and Steve Long and grew up in Baltimore, USA.

Jessica Long

Jessica Long was named Tatiana by her Russian parents

Born with fibular hemimelia – without fibulas, ankles, heels or most bones in her feet – she was adopted at the age of 13 months. Five months later, the remainder of the lower parts of her legs were amputated so she could be fitted for prosthetic legs and learn how to walk. The Longs are a sporting family. ‘I am one of six children and my parents made sure we all remained active. I have been involved in many sports including gymnastics, basketball, cheerleading, ice skating, biking, running, and rock climbing. However, I always loved swimming the most. I learned how to swim in my grandparents’ pool where my sisters and I would spend hours pretending we were mermaids.’

Jessica Long

Baby Jessica coming out of the pool

After talking to a Russian journalist about her Siberian birth, she made contact with her birth parents who, unmarried at the time of Tatiana’s birth, went on to marry and have a family.

Jessica Long

Jessica and her American father, Steve Long

Jessica’s real mother, Natalia, now 38, explained on Russian television how she felt two decades ago, at the age of 18, after giving birth to a seriously disabled daughter. ‘I feel so sorry,’ she said. ‘At that time – there was some fear, I got scared. I had to leave her behind. But I did think that I would take her back,’ she said. ‘Of course I was against leaving her in the hospital but because of the circumstances we had to do so. In my heart I did want to take her home, and thought I would take her back later. I was alone in Siberia, without my mother and father. Where would I go with her, if I had taken her? Doctors told me to leave her behind – said that I could not help her… I called her Tatiana, after my elder sister.’

Jessica’s American father, Steve, remembers, ‘It took us a lot of time to sort out all the paperwork for adoption. We had no idea she had some parents. We thought she was an orphan. And she had serious problems with legs. She does not have bones in her legs down from her knees, right after knees there are feet with fingers. We turned to many professionals in order to solve this problem.’

Jessica’s Russian Aunt Tatiana, for whom she was named, recalled how her sister Natalia phoned to tell her the news about Jessica, adding she was on her way to a TV interview about her daughter. ‘My sister Natalia called me. She said: ‘I am flying to Moscow, Jessica Long is my daughter. She has been searching for me for three years…  I nearly lost my consciousness, I was so shocked. At that moment I had been watching Paralympic Games. The swimming had been on and I saw Jessica there. Then I looked online. Jessica is so much like her sister Nastya. She is just Nastya’s lookalike.’

Jessica said, ‘Who would have ever imagined that a girl with a disability from an orphanage in Siberia would be where I am today? I’m living proof that you can accomplish your dreams, no matter how great or small. I would like to thank God, my family, friends, and coaches for always encouraging me! I couldn’t be successful without them!’

If you like this true story, read:-
Philip Sais
Van Dai & Siobhan
Bob MacNish

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
True #adoption story… Jessica Long #Paralympics https://wp.me/paZ3MX-bg via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… Sheila Mercier #adoption #Emmerdale #truestory

Best known to UK television audiences of the Yorkshire farming series Emmerdale Farm as Annie Sugden, actress Sheila Mercier was born in Hull, a New Year’s baby born on January 1, 1919. She died in December 2019 at the age of 100.

Sheila Mercier

[photo: PA Media]

Mercier remembered a Victorian childhood ‘cossetted so much by servants that I have an abiding memory of my mother ringing for the maid whenever she wanted another piece of coal to be put on the fire.’ Sheila’s fledgling acting career was put on hold with the outbreak of World War Two in which she served with the Women’s Auxiliary Force. On the eve of her 21st birthday, she was raped at a party. Thirty years later, the daughter she gave up for adoption tracked her down. Mercier wrote about the rape and her subsequent pregnancy in Annie’s Song, published in 1995.

‘A lot of young men were there [at the party], all getting very merry,’ she told the Yorkshire Post newspaper in 1994. ‘One pilot asked me to go with him to his room to stoke the fire. This I did and was standing there when, suddenly, I was seized, thrown on the bed and raped.’ Her parents gave her an ultimatum, to sort herself out or find a way of living. Mercier’s father tracked down the baby’s father who offered to marry Mercier, who declined. The baby was adopted and named Janet by her new family. Mercier was able to write and in return she received photographs until one day a letter arrived asking her to cease contact.

In 1969 Janet, herself a wife and mother of three children, traced Mercier and got in touch. ‘I was absolutely wild with joy and phoned her immediately,’ said Mercier. ‘The rapport was instant.’
Sheila MercierBUY THE BOOK

Sheila MercierWatch the moment in a 1973 episode of Emmerdale Farm when Amos Brearley asks Annie to ‘walk out with him’ because he needs a wife and thinks she’d be ‘best for t’job’.

Sheila Mercier

Emmerdale Farm, vol 1 1972

BUY the DVD

If you like this true story, read:-
Helen Harrison
Denise Temple
Amy Seek

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Sheila Mercier #Emmerdale #adoption #truestory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-aW via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… Philip Sais #adoptionreunion #truestory

The movie Lion was the first step on the way to the reunion of two people, Philip Sais, now 20, and the woman who escorted him from India when he was 19 months old. He was going to join his new adoptive family in the USA. Two decades after her escort journey, Char Woodward watched Lion at the cinema and afterwards said to her husband, “I have to find Phillip. I have to make sure he’s okay.”

Philip Sais

Philip Sais and Char Woodworth reunited 2017

So that’s how Philip received a mysterious message on Facebook saying ‘Phillip … you have grown up to be such a lovely young man, you know, since I saw you at 19 months old.’

The first thing he did was to call his adoptive mother.“Mom,” he said when she picked up, “who was the person who brought me from India?” Although Char was still in touch with Philip’s adoptive mother, she wanted to reach out to the young man directly. “Facebook, man!” Phillip laughs. “I didn’t know the person who had brought me over. You know, I never really inquired about it until Char reached out to me, which was really cool.”

Philip Sais

Philip Sais – eating an Oreo cookie on the plane journey to the USA

Almost two decades had passed since Char last saw the toddler she had carried in her arms from Pune, India to Ozark, Arkansas where she delivered him safely to his adoptive family. Char worked for Holt International, the international adoption and child welfare organisation, but only once did she act as an escort. It left a lasting impression on her and she never forgot the small boy she escorted around the world. “I have a photo album that I look at.”

Philip Sais

Philip Sais – Char Woodworth kept an album of photos when she escorted Philip to Arkansas

After their reunion, both were keen to stay in contact. “This is definitely a connection that not many other people have, and so I’m definitely gonna’ keep it,” Phillip said.

“I feel like we’re related,” said Char.

“Even if it’s just like calling or just like texting once or twice a month, I want to keep this,” Phillip says. “It’s special… And I really wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Philip Sais

Lion film poster 2016

Lion is based on the true story of Saroo Brierley, told in his book A Long Way Home. In 1986, five year old Saroo lives in Khandwa, India, with his mother, brother Guddu and younger sister. One day when Guddu and Saroo steal coal from freight trains to pay for food, Saroo takes a nap. When he wakes, Guddu is gone. Saroo waits for him to return, when he doesn’t he boards a train to find him.

If you like this true story, read:-
Laurence Peat 
Bob MacNish
Denise Temple 

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Philip Sais #adoption #truestory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-af via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… Van Dai & Siobhan #Vietnam #China

The House of Love is a Catholic orphanage in a small village in the south of Vietnam. From the age of 11 until 16, this was the home of Van Dai. It quickly became clear he was a bright boy. The orphanage’s director, an elder sister, remembers, “When he first came, he was so timid, shy and didn’t talk much. But when I taught him, I realized that he’s a bright child. He’s clever and grasped new concepts quickly.” At school, he earned the highest marks of any children at the orphanage.

Vietnam adoption

Van Dai at the House of Love [photo: Holtinternational.org]

Over 60 children have grown to adulthood at the House of Love, only seven have been adopted. Asked if he will miss life at the orphanage, Van Dai says “Yes, a little… because I’ve been living here for so long and know the nuns and kids here so well. I’m going to miss them all.” On learning he had been chosen for adoption, he said, “It isn’t easy to describe my feelings about having a family. It’s a mix of excitement, confusion, worry, but most of all I’m happy and feel lucky to have a family of my own.” Most important, it meant love. “Having a family means I’m loved and supported. I can share my sadness and happiness with them. It means I can thrive and live a normal life.” China adoptionVan Dai’s adoptive parents Margaret Wasnak and Bill Hong live in the New York suburbs, USA, with their 14-year old daughter Siobhan.They adopted Siobhan from China when she was ten. Most of all, they want Van Dai to be happy, says Margaret. “That he grows up to be a happy person in whatever he chooses to do. I think that’s the interesting part of getting to meet our son, is that we don’t really know what he likes to do, what he’s good at … what he wants to do with his life. That’s the adventure for us.” Bill adds, “We don’t have any preconceived notions about what success in life might be for him. We want to be able to nurture his potential and help him be the best that he can.”

Margaret and Bill, an older couple, wanted to adopt an older child. “We just felt as an older couple, we would be able to handle an older child and help them progress. So we kind of skipped over the baby section,” says Margaret says [referring to Holt’s photo listing of children waiting to be adopted] and went right to the two older group categories.”

They were attracted to Siobhan’s biography and photograph. “We knew she was for us when we read that she was ‘bossy’,” Margaret remembers. “New Yorkers are born arguing.” They were also moved by the length of time older children must wait for adoption. “There seemed to be a real need,” Margaret says. “The kids wait a really long time. Siobhan waited six years to get adopted.”

Search Holt’s Photo Listing.
Read here the full story of how Margaret and Bill adopted not only Van Dai from Vietnam, but also Siobhan from China.

If you like this true story, read:-
Laurence Peat
Jenna Cook
Denise Temple 

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Van Dai & Siobhan #Vietnam #China #adoption #truestory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-9w via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… Joy Lieberthal Rho #foreveradoption

“Adoption isn’t always forever.” That’s the experience of Joy Lieberthal Rho. “One mother never replaced the other mother.” This is her story of being adopted from Korea.

Joy Lieberthal Rho

[photo: Korean American Story]

Joy’s birth mother found her again when Joy was 24. “One mother is the person I was born from. We have the same complexion, shoe size, fingers, nose, and chin. She lost me at age three to a man who promised he would let her visit, but in a year’s time, she would have no idea where I was. After months of chasing down last known guardians, she arrived at the orphanage too late: I had been adopted, and no one had known that my mother was trying to find me all that time.” Although still in contact with her birth mother, Joy says it feels to late to ask her to be her Mum but she misses the shared remembering, the shared family stories.

She has a shared history with her adoptive mother, but they split when Joy was 19. “One mother is the person who claimed me when others believed me to be without a mother. This mother disappeared with a click of the phone, when a truth she couldn’t handle severed our relationship. At the time, I said, Okay, Mom, I will wait to hear from you—that was the last time I said the word “Mom.” To this day, I wonder, if I just didn’t say it, if I didn’t make it known, would I still have a mother?”

Joy ponders on whether she needs a mother. Not for day-to-day living, she says, but “sometimes there are moments when you just long for a person who is obligated to be in your corner.” She is a mother herself and this has led her to ponder on the nature of motherhood. Ninety nine per cent of the time she says she is fine, the other 1%, the tough days, she wishes she had a mother to call.

Read Joy’s written account of her story in Catapult magazine.

If you like this true story, read:-
Amy Seek
Brenda Rhensius
Denise Temple 

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Joy Lieberthal Rho #adoption #truestory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-9i via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… Amy Seek #closedadoption #openadoption

When 23-year-old Amy Seek decided to give up her baby son for adoption, she assumed that closed adoption – where she would never see her son again – was her only option. But in the US, where Amy was living at the time, she spoke to the Catholic Social Services and learned for the first time about open adoption.

open adoption

[photo: JGI-Tom Grill via Getty Images]

“When the counsellor explained open adoption – that I would be able to select the parents and know my child – adoption suddenly seemed more humane, more possible,” she told Huffington Post UK.

Open adoption, which allows contact between the birth family and the adoptive family, is rare in the UK but more common in the USA. So what is open adoption? There are three types:-

  1. direct contact, with face-to-face or telephone contact between birth family and adoptive family;
  2. indirect contact, the exchange of letters, cards and gifts between the birth and adoptive families;
  3. links provided by the birth or adoptive family, and retained by the adoption agency to be passed onto the child in the future, if requested by the relevant person.

Amy, now 39 and living in London, says,“When my son was four he’d smile sobroadly when I’d arrive, he’d show me his toys and want to play with me.” She sees her son, who lives in the US, between three and seven times a year.

Read more about open adoption in this article at Huffington Post UK.

If you like this true story, try:-
Brenda Rhensius
Eileen Heron
Helen Harrison

open adoption

Read this true story about an open adoption.
BUY

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Amy Seek #adoption #truestory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-8L via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… Brenda Rhensius #AdoptionReunion #birthmother

In 1963 when nineteen-year old unmarried Brenda Rhensius gave up her only daughter Joanne for adoption, she cannot have predicted how much her life would change in the years afterwards. Brenda married, had a son, forged a successful career and moved to South Africa. But she never forgot Joanne. “Every year on her birthday my insides felt like they were being ripped out and that never went away, even after 48 years,” Brenda tells the Daily Mirror.

birth mother

Brenda Rhensius and Joanne Dickson [photo: ITV]

Brenda began her search when Joanne reached her 18thbirthday, but without success. So when she contacted the team at Long Lost Family it was with the assumption that Joanne was untraceable or simply didn’t want to be found. It took the television team just a few months to find Joanne. And she was also living in South Africa.

“I couldn’t believe she had been found, let alone that we had both ended up living thousands of miles away in the same country,” says Brenda. “When we finally met it was so emotional. All I could say was, ‘You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful’, and gave her a great big hug. There was no screaming or crying, we just sat down and started talking and instantly it was as if those 48 years apart had just faded away. Until that day I’d always felt a part of me was missing, but meeting her made me feel whole again.”

Brenda gave birth to Joanne at a mother and baby home in Manchester. “My parents felt it was the right thing and actually I thought it would be the best thing for my baby too – there was a huge stigma on illegitimate children and I thought her only chance was to grow up with a mum and a dad,” remembers Brenda. Mum and daughter stayed in the unit for six weeks after birth, until the adoption day arrived. Brenda and Joanne were driven to the Methodist Adoption Society and asked to wait in a room. The adoptive parents waited in another room. “A nurse came in and said, ‘Joanne’s new parents are here’. She took her off me and walked out and that was it – it was horrible and so brutal,” Brenda says. “I could hear her new mother squeal with delight through the walls and I felt so bereft.”

When the two women finally met, they discovered a shared love of animals and a silly sense of humour. Joanne says, “I like drama and singing and I’m very outgoing but my adoptive parents were very shy, quiet, gentle people – I always felt totally different to them. Brenda is much more like me. We actually found ourselves finishing each other’s sentences and we have the same mannerisms – we both talk with our hands and we both waffle! And there were some incredible coincidences. The fact that we both ended up in South Africa was the biggest one.”

Read more details of Brenda and Joanne’s story.
Helpful ‘adoption search’ resources, suggested by the team behind the Long Lost Family television programme.
Want to appear on Long Lost Family?
Help with late discovery adoption.

If you like this true story, try:-
Denise Temple
Ramiro Osorio Cristales 
Alice Collins Plebuch 

Ignoring Gravity

Why not try a fictional story about adoption reunion. Ignoring Gravity is first in the ‘Identity Detective’ series. Rose Haldane is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to do, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Except it isn’t: because Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it. BUY

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
How #birthmother Brenda found her daughter after 30 years #adoptionreunion https://wp.me/paZ3MX-8F via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… Denise Temple #AdoptionReunion

This adoption story from the 1960s belongs to a teenager whose father died when she was 15. Missing her father and growing apart from her mother who was distracted by a new husband, she sought love and attention elsewhere. She went clubbing, and at 16 was pregnant. This is Denise Temple‘s story from Long Lost Family. The family agreed the child would be given up for adoption.

Long Lost Family

But Denise remembers looking at her new born baby, Deborah: “I thought I’d die for this child, I’d die for her… I just cried and cried and cried. I said ‘I’m not giving her up’.” But her stepfather would not have her in the house. It was finally agreed that Denise and her baby could go home on the understanding that she could expect no help from her mother or stepfather. In The Sixties there was little state support for single mothers. Denise went home, and the baby slept in a drawer. She had half a dozen terry cloth nappies. “I was so alone.” She struggled on for three months, before finally giving her baby up for adoption. “It was no life for her, or me.”

Denise never forgot Deborah. “She’s always with me… Has she been happy? I want Deborah to know that I’ve always loved her.” When Denise eventually began to search for Deborah she had no success, not knowing that Deborah’s name was changed.

According to the Long Lost Family team, including Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell [above], this case is unusual because in England in the 1960s it was common for birth mothers to spend only a few weeks with their baby, before the baby was taken to its adoptive parents. Denise spent three months with Deborah, she battled hard to keep her.

Deborah, now called Susan, was told when she was 21 that she was adopted. She says she always knew. “Intuition,” she tells the programme, “I was so unlike my family.” But she didn’t search, “I didn’t want to poke that dragon”. When she did search, the file for the month of her birth in 1965 was missing. “That was the end of my search.”

When Long Lost Family approached her with the news that her birth mother wanted to meet her, Susan admitted to mixed feelings: excited, and interested. She tells Denise that she had dreams about sleeping in a drawer.

Long Lost Family

 

Read the Long Lost Family true stories of Helen Harrison and Laurence Peat.

Or try Long Lost Family: True Stories of Families Reunited by Humphrey Price. BUY

Helpful ‘adoption search’ resources, suggested by the team behind the Long Lost Family television programme.
Want to appear on Long Lost Family?
Help with late discovery adoption.

 

 

If you like this true story, try:-
Bob Macnish
George Orwell
Jenna Cook 


Try this fictional story involving adoption… Ignoring Gravity is first in the ‘Identity Detective’ series.

Rose Haldane is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to do, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Except it isn’t: because Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it. BUY

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Another touching #adoptionreunion story from #LongLostFamily https://wp.me/paZ3MX-3P via #AdoptionStoriesBlog