Tag Archives: adoption reunion

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

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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

True #adoption story… Laurence Peat #AdoptionReunion

Today’s adoption story from the UK television series Long Lost Family focuses on a birth child who searched for many years for his birth mother but never found her. The sense of rejection never left this 55-year old lorry driver from Chesterfield, UK.

Long Lost Family

Laurence Peat says, “I’ve only ever cried three times in my life. When Dad died. When Mum died. When I got divorced.” Crying is not a problem to Laurence by the end of this programme. He was told he was adopted when he was seven. “We’re not your real parents,” his adoptive parents told him and he asked no questions, not wanting to upset them. “I don’t like people being upset,” he explains. For years he searched secretly for his birth parents, now that both his adoptive parents are dead he feels able to be open about his search, open about his need to ask ‘why?’

“Why did she put me up for adoption at that early age… If you’re not wanted, it hurts.”  Sadly for Laurence, his birth mother is found to be dead. But he has a half-sister who, from a box of family photographs kept by her mother, produces a black-and-white photo of an unidentified baby. This treasured box survived multiple house moves, proving its importance.

Laurence compares this photograph with one his adoptive parents have of him of the day they adopted him: it is the same baby, wearing the same clothes, photographed against the same background. So although Laurence will never meet his birth mother, he is reassured that “she never forgot me all that time.”

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:-
George Orwell
Jenna Cook
Ramiro Osorio Cristales 

Ignoring Gravity

 

Rose Haldane in Ignoring Gravity 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. First in the ‘Identity Detective’ series. BUY

 

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How adoptee Laurence searches for his birth mother #adoptionreunion https://wp.me/paZ3MX-3t via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

The #paternity question #researching #adoptionreunion

People have been having affairs – and illegitimate children – since the world began. For me, this means hundreds of story ideas for the ‘Identity Detective’ series. For family history researchers, it presents a big dilemma: whether to believe what the records say. Adultery is notoriously difficult to trace through the records, with many women giving birth to babies whose father is not her husband.

[photo: @SandraDanby]

How do you spot a problem? Look out for:-

Family rumours. Is it spiteful gossip, or is the rumour confirmed from different sources?

Timing. Where was the father nine months before the birth? Did the birth take place a suspiciously short time after the wedding? Why is the paternity questioned?

Physical likeness, does a child look like its father? Not a reliable measure, as often children are genetic throwbacks and resemble neither of their parents.

Is it known that the mother had affairs? Check the divorce records for evidence of adultery.

Are the parents living apart, so suggesting a marriage separation. Check the Census.

A marriage breakdown is often evident in a person’s will, an estrangement may be mentioned. Or there may be a bequest to someone not in the immediate family.

Was the sibling not particularly close to his or her father? And is there evidence of another man being involved in the child’s upbringing; this may be unconscious interest, evident only through the observation of relatives.

If someone on your family tree has a number of these inconsistencies, there may be a case of ‘paternity fraud’. Always approach your research with care and sensitivity for the feelings of relatives.

[photo: @SandraDanby]

This post was inspired by Ed Dutton’s article ‘Who’s the daddy?’ in the May 2016 issue of the UK’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine. Read more about Ed Dutton here.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Searching British newspaper archives
Researching European records
Where to start your #adoptionreunion search 

Sandra Danby

 

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.
First in the ‘Identity Detective’ series.
BUY

Watch the book trailer for the ‘Identity Detective’ series.

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The #paternity question #adoptionreunion https://wp.me/paZ3MX-3m via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Further information #Adoption #AdoptionReunion #HelpfulLinks

If you want to take the first tentative step to finding answers about your own adoption story, here are some simple places to start. This list of books includes advice on how to search, autobiographies of people involved in the adoption story, adoptees and birth parents, and true stories of adoption searches. The websites include adoption advice and useful archives. This is a place to start. Your journey will take you into the unknown, only you can take that first step. Good luck.

[photo: salvationarmy.co.uk]

BOOKS

Adoption, Search & Reunion by David Howe & Julia Feast
A Good Likeness by Paul Arnott
Blue-Eyed Son by Nicky Campbell
Relative Strangers: A history of adoption and a tale of triplets by Hunter Davies

The People Finder by Karen Bali
The Adoption Triangle by Julia Tugendhat
The Adoption Reunion Handbook by Liz Trinder and Julia Feast
The Adoption Papers by Jackie Kay
I Belong to No One by Gwen Wilson

[photo @SandraDanby]

WEBSITES

GOV.UK How to access birth records in the UK, what to do if you know your birth details, and what to do if you don’t know the circumstances of your birth. Includes a link to the Adoption Contact Register which enables you to find a birth relative or adopted person, or to say you don’t want to be contacted.
GENERAL REGISTER OFFICE To order UK birth certificates online, go to the General Register Office.
ARIEL BRUCE is a Registered Independent Social Worker who specialises in tracing people affected by adoption. She also helps to trace people who have lost touch as a result of emigration, divorce or other family separations. Ariel Bruce conducts searches in Britain and all over the world and has successfully traced missing family members for over 20 years.
BAAF [The British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering] supplies advice and information on adoption and care issues. Their publication “Where to find Adoption Records” is very useful.
ELECTORAL REGISTER If trying to trace someone for whom you have a name, the Electoral Registers are a useful source of name and address. Check with your local county council.
AFTER ADOPTION is an independent adoption support organisation. Its website has useful links and adoption information. ActionLine is a free telephone helpline on 0800 0 568 578. It is confidential and available for anyone whose life has been affected by adoption – adopted people, birth relatives and adoptive families.
ADOPTION UK UK charity for people affected by adoption, 10,000 members. Providing support, awareness and understanding. Promotes the value of adoption, not so much about adoption reunion.
THE SALVATION ARMY Helps to reunite families through its Family Tracing Service. Telephone 0845 634 4747 or go online and complete an online request for a Family Tracing Service Application Form.

Finding People [photo: salvationarmy.co.uk]

ADOPTION SEARCH REUNION This website, run by BAAF, is a useful starting place in the search for birth or adopted relatives.
FORMER CHILDREN’S HOMES This website is a valuable resource for information about UK children’s cottage homes, former orphanages and other institutions for children plus details of US orphanages and child migration. Information from children’s home registers is going online now.
PEOPLETRACER Checks +300 million online records for named people. Resources include UK Electoral Registers for 2002-2014, births deaths and marriages, and online Telephone Directory.
ADOPTION SERVICES FOR ADULTS Registered social worker Jean Milsted specialises in helping adults affected by adoption. As well as searching, tracing and intermediary services, ASA also offers workshops for adults affected by adoption [adopted people, birth relatives and adoptive family members]. Understanding different perspectives in adoption search and reunion, wanting to know or not, preparing for reunion.

This information is for guidance only and is mostly UK-based. All websites featured include further useful links, so please explore. Sandra Danby does not offer adoption advice or genealogical services.

Read more about family history research here:-
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’
Searching British newspaper archives
Searching the #DeceasedOnline database of #graveyards 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Further information #Adoption #AdoptionReunion #HelpfulLinks https://wp.me/paZ3MX-2G via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… Bob MacNish #truestory #adoptionreunion

Bob MacNish was 22 when his father died. On his deathbed, his father told him he was adopted. MacNish spent the next 50 years searching for the truth but getting nowhere. His original birth certificate was legally sealed.

[photo: Mitsu Yasukaway/northjersey.com]

Then in 2018, MacNish was one of the first adult adoptees to be given his original birth certificate in the state of New Jersey. State laws continue to change in the USA regarding the information available to adult adoptees. According to the American Adoption Congress, nine states now allowed unrestricted access and a further 11 allow access with restrictions [including New Jersey]. Records remain sealed in 22 states.

Bob MacNish finally met his birth mother for the first time, when he was 73. “For me, there was always that hunger for that answer. I need to know the truth about where I come from,” he told NJTV News. He knew he was born in Weehawken and given up for adoption when he was three days old. All he knew was that his birth mother was probably Italian. His adoption was private, arranged by an attorney. MacNish grew up feeling ‘a little different’ from his adopted family of Scottish farmers in central New Jersey.

Bob MacNish with birth mother Jean and half-sister Sheila [photo: Mitsu Yasukaway/northjersey.com]

If you like this true story, try:-
Eileen Heron
Jenna Cook
Emmeline Pankhurst 

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Bob MacNish #adoption #truestory https://wp.me/paZ3MX-2r via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

True #adoption story… Jenna Cook #identity #adoptionreunion

In 2017, 20-year old Jenna Cook went to China to find her birth parents. Her expectations were low. But she was overwhelmed by what happened next. She met more than fifty families, all desperately seeking their lost babies, hoping that Jenna was the one.

Jenna Cook & adoptive mother Margaret Cook [photo: Chutian Metropolis Daily]

Her story starts on March 22, 1992. A baby was left at the busy bus station in Wuhan, China, which sees 12,000 travellers each day. She was picked up and taken to the Wuhan Children Welfare House nearby where she was cared for, named Xia Huasi [which means ‘China’s’] and assigned a random birth date chosen by the director of the home. There was no formal adoption process in China, where couples faced heavy fines for breaking the country’s one-child policy. It was also illegal to abandon children. Later that year, China passed a law enabling foreigners to adopt Chinese orphans. American Margaret Cook collected Xia Huasi, renamed her Jenna, and took her home to Massachusetts. Jenna was one of the first wave of adopted babies taken abroad; 80,000 to the USA and 40,000 to the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

Jenna had a happy childhood, along with her sister [also adopted from China] they learned Mandarin and Margaret encouraged them to socialise with Chinese people. ‘Even just looking at your own belly button, you think to yourself: ‘Oh, I used to be attached to another human being. That’s the body I came from, but who is that? Does that person even really exist?’ It all seems so abstract. It sometimes just feels like you appeared on the planet.Most people are just born into the families they’re born into and they never think twice about it. Whereas for adopted people there is always this possibility of another life.’

After taking part in a television documentary, ‘Somewhere Between’, Jenna worked for the summer at the Chinese orphanage where she had been taken as a baby. Later, as a 20-year old student, she returned to China again with Margaret. This time to search. She handed out leaflets around Wuhan; people were interested in her story, and shared their own experiences.

Jenna’s leaflet [photo: Jenna Cook]

‘I was pretty amazed that people were even paying attention to me, because I felt like I’m just one story in a huge migration of children from China. I felt like I was just one raindrop in the puddle.’ When the local newspaper published a story about Jenna’s search in May 2012, her search went viral. From amongst hundreds of messages, Jenna drew up a shortlist of 50 birth families each of which had left a baby on the same street in Wuhan in March 1992.

Jenna decided to approach the interviews as an academic exercise rather than thinking ‘maybe this is the one’, which would be emotionally exhausting. The stories told by the birth families were touching. ‘They all remembered their babies forever – it was this experience that they really regret and that they would never forget.’Each family approached Jenna as if she were their daughter – are you happy, are you being cared for? DNA tests were done with 37 of the families. All were negative.

Since her search, Jenna has returned to China but is no longer actively searching.

Watch ‘Somewhere Between’ below.

If you like this true story, try:-
Helen Harrison
Alice Collins Plebuch 
Ramon Osorio Cristales 

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Jenna Cook #adoption #truestory #adoptionreunion https://wp.me/paZ3MX-2l via #AdoptionStoriesBlog