Tag Archives: adoption reunion

True #adoption story… Tamela Dunn & Jo-Ann Gerow #adoptionstories

In 1976, Jo-Ann Gerow was 19 when she gave birth to a baby girl and gave her up for adoption. ‘I had just graduated high school, and wasn’t too sure what I was going to be doing with my life, or in my life, and I had thought about giving the baby up to a member of my family, but then I thought I would get jealous over time.’

Tamela Dunn

Jo-Ann Gerow and Tamela Dunn reunion [photo: CBC]

Gerow was kept in hospital to care for the baby for ten days. ‘When I walked out, the sun was shining. I felt that on my face and I looked across the city of Kitimat and I started praying to God that he would bless and protect her and that we would be reunited one day,’ Gerow remembers. And she always wondered what happened to her baby.

Gerow went on to have two further daughters but she never married, and never forgot her first child. When the British Columbia government opened up adoption records in the early 1990s, Gerow says, ‘I sent my affidavit requesting information in regards to the adoption, so I’ve been searching for quite a while.’

Jo-Ann Gerow

Jo-Ann Gerow had two other daughters after Tamela Dunn’s birth but never married [photo – Terri Trembath/CBC]

Meanwhile her daughter, Tamela Dunn, had started searching too. ‘I walked around my entire life with a missing piece and I never understood it,’ says 39-year-old Tamela Dunn. ‘Because of the fact of the old-style hospital, a lot of the records got deteriorated, there was a lot of information that was unreadable and so there was a lot that happened, and it was just an uphill battle.’ Though cautious, Dunn continued to search.’ There’s a lot of horror stories out there about people reuniting and sometimes it not working out so well.’ With the help of non-profit reconnection group Spirit of the Children, the two women were reunited in 2015.

Dunn said afterwards, ‘I was expecting a name, I wasn’t expecting a mom.’
Read Tamela’s story at CBC News Canada [2015]
Watch the tearful reunion on CBC News.

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True #adoption story… Betty Morrell #adoptionstories

The headline sounds like something from a film: ‘Woman, 82, finds birth mother, 96’. After 50 years of searching Betty Morrell finally met her birth mother, Lena Pierce.

Betty Morrel

Betty Morrell meets birth mother Lena Pierce with Kimberly Miccio, holding her own daughter [photo: Kimberly Miccio]

Eighty-two years after she was born to a teenage mother and put up for adoption, Betty Morrell finally met her birth mother thanks to the dogged research by her grand-daughter, Kimberly Miccio, over twenty years. Betty started searching once her adoptive parents had died but, as her adoption had been closed, it was ‘like hitting a brick wall.’

Born in Utica, New York State, in 1993, Betty’s mother Lena named her daughter Eva May. But Lena was a ward of the state and so social welfare officers took away her baby for adoption. Betty, as she was later named, grew up as an only child with her adoptive family on Long Island. Her childhood was happy. In her thirties she started to search. The first shock was finding that her birth mother had not died during childbirth as she had been told.

Betty’s grand-daughter Kimberly started to help her grandmother with the research when she was 12. ‘My grandmother had been looking for a long time. She had never tried through the internet, so we started going through different sites.’ Eventually, using Ancestry, Kimberly located one of Lena Pierce’s daughters. Betty then learned she had four sisters, two brothers, and that her mother was alive and well and living in Pennsylvania.
Read the full story of Betty’s reunion at US News.

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Dave Lowe

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True #adoption story… Peter Papathanasiou @peteplastic #adoptionstories

Peter Papathanasiou was 24 years old when he was summoned to his mother’s bedroom and told he was adopted. The subsequent search for his identity takes him from Greece to Australia as he uncovers his mother’s life story. Son of Mine, published in 2019, is not just a story of adoption and identity but a story too of migration and the experience of first and second-generation immigrants.

Peter Papathanasiou

Peter Papathanasiou [photo: Salt Publishing]

‘I thought she was going to tell me somebody was dying,’ Papathanasiou told The Guardian. ‘Instead, she revealed that she was not my biological mother. Her brother, one of my many uncles, a man I’d never met, who lived in northern Greece, was my real father. I slumped against the wall in shock. By the end, I was splayed on the floor.’

He had always known his parents had struggled to have children. What he didn’t know was that in 1973 on a family visit to Greece, his mother had tried to adopt a baby at a Greek orphanage. When she was unsuccessful, her brother suggested he and his wife have a baby for her. ‘It was to be a pure gift, but Mum was scared her brother and his wife might want to keep the child: there was nothing in writing. Still, she agreed, went back to Australia and waited. One day, she got a letter. It said: “We’re pregnant. The baby will be born in June 1974.”’

His mother flew back to Greece for the birth but missed it by a day or two. She spent five months there, caring for Peter and doing the paperwork. ‘My birth certificate was issued with my adoptive name and listed my adoptive parents as my parents. We left for Australia when I was six months old. It must have been difficult for my biological parents to give me up.’ Peter’s cousin George [actually his biological brother] later told him that when he was taken away, ‘it was like a period of mourning – nobody talked for three days.’

Papathanasiou’s emotions ran through shock, then he felt deceived and angry, finally he felt excitement. ‘I forgave my parents quickly. At the end of the day, they’d always loved me. My wife and I struggled to conceive for two years, and that was tough. Mum and Dad had close to 18 years of that. My dad has since died, but he taught me so much, including how to be a father. My mum adores my boys. I’ll tell them one day: “Without that lady and the lengths she went to, to become a mother, I wouldn’t be here and neither would you.”’

Read the full article at The Guardian.
Peter Papathanasiou

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True #adoption story… Christine Rose #adoptionstories #lostsisters

At the age of four, Christine Rose was separated from her two sisters in extremely dramatic circumstances. ‘I just remember when they came to take us away. It was at night, there was a lot of screaming and my mother was crying. There were bulbs flashing in our faces as we were being carried out, it was just frightening. They took me to one children’s home and they took my sisters to another one. I never saw them again.’ For more than sixty years, she wondered what happened to them.

Christine Rose

Christine Rose, centre, with sisters Catherine, left, and Carol, right [photo: Long Lost Family]

Christine’s emotional story is told by television programme Long Lost Family which conducted the genealogical research to track down her family. Christine was born in Dewsbury, Yorkshire. She will never forget the night the three young sisters were taken from their mother by social services. Christine was sent to one children’s home, her sisters to another. She never saw her mother or sisters again. Christine was eventually adopted but remained haunted by the absence of her sisters and began to question why the family were torn apart. ‘I always felt lonely, especially knowing I had two sisters out there somewhere…I was always wondering where they are and what they were doing…I knew that we were taken away but I just can’t picture my mum at all.’

She started researching and at her local library found a newspaper article from 1955. Her mother had been accused of neglect after an NSPCC inspector visited a house and discovered young children trying to eat unpeeled raw potatoes. The floorboards had been removed and used for firewood.  Christine’s mum, Doreen, was found guilty of neglecting her three children and was remanded in custody.

Christine longs to know the truth behind the newspaper story. ‘I just want closure. There’s no blame, no bitterness, no nothing. I assume my mother would have passed away now. My sisters were so young. I really want to know what happened to them. I hope they were adopted together because I’ve had a decent life now and I hope they have.’

Long Lost Family confirmed that Doreen died many years earlier and so started to search for Christine’s sisters. A birth record is found for Catherine Mary, also born in Dewsbury and also adopted. Catherine’s marriage certificate shows she now lives in Leeds. Catherine confirms she is still in touch with her older sister, Carol. The two sisters confirm they have spent 20 years searching for Christine. Carol says, ‘It’s been like an obsession.’

On that night in 1955 Catherine and Carol, aged 18 months and two-and-a-half, were taken to a children’s home in Harrogate. They were later adopted together. They were told their father was in prison but later their mother got back together with him and they went on to have six more children together. Carol says, ‘You can understand what a desperate situation she must have been in, it’s such a shame all three of us couldn’t have stayed together. (Finding Christine) is amazing. It’s like landing on the moon.’

After the three sisters are reunited, Christine says, ‘It’s just overwhelming. As soon as I’d given them a hug, all the nerves went. It’s just so nice to see them. It’s just letting it sink in. They are my family, you know. They are my family.’
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Read Christine’s story.

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True #adoption story… @juliewassmer #adoptionstories #birthmother

In 1989, budding screenwriter Julie Wassmer went to meet a literary agent to talk about script ideas. She didn’t look twice at the secretary who served coffee that day. Twenty years earlier, teenage Julie had given birth to a baby daughter who was given up for adoption. The following day, typing a letter for her boss, the secretary recognised Julie’s name from her own birth certificate.

Julie Wassmer

Julie Wassmer [photo: juliewassmer.com]

Julie managed to hide her pregnancy from her parents until she went into labour. She was sixteen. “In my family, where I was the adored only child, falling pregnant to my boyfriend Martin when I was 16 was a disaster… Martin and I never assumed for a moment that there could be a happy ending. We were too poor, too working class, too young to build a family. Adoption was the only possibility.”

After spending ten days in hospital with her daughter Sarah Louise, Julie went home alone and returned to her A-level studies. She and Martin split up. She always believed Sarah Louise would get in touch, especially when the Adoption Act was passed in 1976 giving children the right to trace their parents. She was convinced Sarah Louise would look for her after her 18th birthday in 1988. Meanwhile, Julie wrote a script that was made into a film in 1989, and the meeting with the agent followed.

“There is no ground map that exists for such situations: we have had to feel our way towards a relationship over the past 20 years. She has a mother whom she dearly loves – that is not my role. Mostly I feel we are more like sisters; other times it feels as if we are best friends; occasionally it has felt like falling in love.”

Mother and daughter meet regularly. “Writing down our experiences in a book has been cathartic. And when Sara fell pregnant at 37, I was able to revel in her experience. Picking up my grandson for the first time brought us full circle.”

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Read Julie’s full interview with The Guardian and visit her website.

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True #adoption story… @samfuterman #adoptionstories

American actress Samantha Futerman – she played Satsu Sakamoto in Memoirs of a Geisha, and starred in and directed Twinsters, a documentary about finding her twin sister – was born in Busan, South Korea in 1987. Her birth name was Ra-Hee Chung. She was later adopted by her American parents, Jackie and Judd Futerman and went to the New York Professional Performing Arts High School.

Samantha, growing up in America, and her twin sister, Anais Bordier, growing up in France, did not know of the other’s existence. This misconception lasted for twenty-five years until they found each other in 2013 via social networking services. Both had been adopted shortly after birth. Futerman decided to make their cinematic encounter into a film. With co-director Ryan Miyamoto, she filmed the reunion, starting with the sisters’ first encounter on Facebook messenger chat, to their first face-to-face meeting in London. “We weren’t trying to do anything but tell an honest story,” said Futerman. “We weren’t trying to please anyone but we’re happy that it came out with positivity.” This film became Twinsters.

Samantha Futerman

Samantha Futerman and Anais Bordier

The sisters had different adoption experiences. Speaking about adoption in general, Anais said, “I hope they understand that a kid is a kid no matter what. They should be happy that their family accepted them and loved them. To parents who are adopting children, I’d say they’re really brave. They’re brave to understand what being a parent is. It’s the same as just being a regular parent. To parents who gave their children away, they’re the bravest of them all. It’s the hardest thing. I hope our biological parents are happy. I want to thank them for choosing to wish for us a better life.”

Samantha added, “It takes a lot to not get rid of a child. It takes a lot of courage. I can’t imagine what that pain is like. For new adoptive parents, congratulations and good luck on this journey of parenting. For adoptees, know that you’re not alone. Don’t forget that you’re unique and there are many people out there to support you.”

Samantha Futerman
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True #adoption story… Angela Patrick #adoptionstories

On January 16, 1964, Angela Patrick sat in the waiting room of an adoption charity in west London. In her arms she held her sleeping baby, eight-week old Paul. When an adoption worker took Paul from Angela’s lap to ‘take him to show to the couple’, Angela waited for Paul to be returned so she could say goodbye. But Angela would not see Paul for another thirty years.

Angela Patrick

Angela Patrick & Katharine [photo: Sarah Lee for The Guardian]

Nineteen year old Angela was raised in a Catholic family, told she would meet a man, marry him, then children would follow. But Angela went to a party, forgot her mother’s warning of ‘Never let a man touch you’ and found herself pregnant. Angela clearly remembers the emotions today. “From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I felt sheer panic,” says Angela, 68. “I was in denial for weeks. My overwhelming feeling was shame – at how badly I’d let my mother down. But when I finally accepted it, my one thought was: how can I get through this without anyone finding out?”

The fling having ended before Angela found out she was pregnant, she lived first with a supportive friend and then, for the last two months of her pregnancy, at a Catholic home for unmarried mums-to-be. There was no alternative but to have her baby adopted. Having been in denial for so long, it was too late to have an abortion. “I’ve been over it a million times and wondered how I could have kept my baby, but I’ve never come up with an answer,” says Angela. “I would never, ever have been able to go home with a baby.”

Angela’s delivery was difficult and, as a result, she stayed at the home with Paul for two months after the birth. Time for mother and son to form a strong bond. Adoption day was unbearable. “It was impossible to think of another woman mothering him,” she says.

Thirty years later, on January 19, 1994, Angela received a letter from the adoption charity saying Paul had been in touch and would like to make contact with Angela. “I imagined how much it had taken for him to track down the charity. To think he had searched for me, not knowing if I would want anything to do with him, and might reject him all over again, broke my heart.”

Angela went on to marry and have a daughter. Katharine, now 35, has a child of her own and cannot imagine doing what her mother had to do. And she is angry with her grandmother. ” I wasn’t brought up religiously, so I don’t understand the indoctrination my mother had, or the society that she grew up in. My mum is a good person, a nice person, and her own mother behaved in an inhumane way. I can’t imagine letting those beliefs win over what I felt for my child. I have a 10-week old baby, and the thought of being forced to give her up is unimaginable.

“My grandmother died when I was eight. I don’t think, once I’d found out about what had happened to my mum, that I could have forgiven her like Mum did, or would want to have continued a relationship with her.”

Read Angela’s full story at The Guardian.

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The reality of #adoptionreunion #searching #truestories

Davina McCall, presenter of the long-running television series ‘Long Lost Family’, said: “Finding someone, when the trail has gone cold, can seem like an impossible task”

Long Lost Family

Davina McCall & Nicky Campbell [photo: Long Lost Family]

There are two faces to adoption: public and private. Some relatives remain secret, hidden forever, the separated players remaining apart and unknown. Some people struggle with the decision to search, when they do they may be elated or dejected. The story of the birth mother and father is often not heard, somehow their voice can be forgotten in the hubbub of reunion. Some lucky people do have a happy ending. The path is always painful.

Adoption can be the making of some people, it can save lives, give a new chance, solve problems and bring happiness to abandoned children and childless couples, a new start to the birth parents who for their own reasons made that agonizing decision. British television is full of programmes about adoption reunion and family history. It started with the BBC trailblazer Who Do You Think You Are?, now a global phenomenon and still going strong. ITV got in on the act with Long Lost Family and now co-presenter Nicky Campbell is hosting a new series concentrating on the behind-the-scenes process of adoption today, Wanted: A Family of My Own. Nicky Campbell’s own memoir, Blue-Eyed Son, was an important part of my reading.

How it feels to a) be a birth parent who has, for whatever reason, to give a child up for adoption, b) that child, given to another set of parents, or c) the adoptive parents who take a child not their own into their lives, cannot by fully understood except the people who experience it. As a writer I tried to put myself into their shoes by research, I read memoirs of people involved in every aspect of adoption, asked questions, researched over years, but I know I can never really get under the skin. So I researched as far as I could, and then I used my imagination.

The wealth of support available now is rich for all people involved in the adoption process. My ‘Identity Detective’ series – Ignoring Gravity and its sequel Connectedness – are adoption reunion mysteries. Both involve adoptions contracted when the system was not as transparent nor as helpful as today, when the overwhelming urge was for secrecy to protect identities and emotions. So it is in the past that Rose Haldane must search for the true adoption stories, where the trail has gone cold, records lost, the will to continue searching has eroded but the need to know is still there. Rose Haldane, identity detective, finds the answers most difficult to uncover. But that is just fiction.

Adoption is a reality for many people today, wanting to find their own roots in family history. If you are considering searching for a relative lost through adoption, and the adoption pre-dates 2005, the Adoption Search Reunion website may be able to help. It provides information for adopted people, birth relatives and also adoptive parents in England and Wales as well as for adoption professionals. The information available applies only to adoptions made before December 30, 2005. There are separate sections for adopted people, birth relatives and adoptive parents.  It includes advice on contacting relatives, how to search, where to find local records.

More about the original BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? plus links to an amazing depth of information about family history throughout the BBC archives.

Watch an episode of Long Lost Family via ITV Player. Laurence Peat tried to find his mother, but information on his adoption file led nowhere. Denise Temple is desperate to find the daughter she was forced to give up for adoption.

Watch Wanted: A Family of My Own via ITV Player.

Read my review of Nicky Campbell’s book Blue-Eyed Son, about the search for his birth parents.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Was your relative a #boatman
The paternity question
Further information #Adoption #AdoptionReunion #HelpfulLinks 

Sandra Danby

★★★★★ “I devoured the book in one go, unable to put it down despite the tirade of emotions it brought to the surface”

Start the ‘Identity Detective’ series of #adoptionreunion mysteries with Ignoring Gravity. When you don’t know who you are any more, it’s time to ask questions. Will Rose Haldane like the answers she hears or wish she’d never asked? #secrets #mystery #family #KU BUY THE BOOK

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#Familysecrets ‘Tainted Tree’ by @jackieluben #saga #romance

American Addie Russell was adopted at birth after her single mother died. Always happy with her adoptive parents in Boston, USA, advertising copywriter Addie starts to ask questions when she inherits a house from a stranger in England. Tainted Tree by Jacquelynn Luben is an adoption mystery combined with romance. It combines genealogical search and US/English differences with the joy and abandonment of teenage love. Jacquelynn Luben

Addie arrives in England at the house she has inherited. Glad to cross the Atlantic and escape her job and the boss which whom she had an affair, she is determined to find out more about her birth mother Adrienne and perhaps identify her birth father. But the local lawyer handling the estate is cold and stand-offish, sending mixed signals that Addie doesn’t understand. Undeterred, she does her own research and traces her maternal grandparents but is shocked that they rejected her when she was born. Why did they hate her so?

The action moves back and forth between Addie’s new house in Surrey and the West Country, where her mother grew up. Although this story has a fair amount of romance, both in the modern story and that of Adrienne, it also has a dark streak of abuse and violence. There are some wonderful minor characters, Ada became a favourite. Luben is good at creating atmosphere and darker, threatening personalities.

I did want to see more of Adrienne’s viewpoint directly, rather than simply reading about Addie reading Adrienne’s diary entries. Her teenage love affair in the Sixties rang true and Luben populates the story with well-drawn supporting characters, particularly the three Amerys and the Graingers.

There were times in the first third when I felt bogged down with information overload and I got a couple of the historical characters muddled up, but as the middle section took off it started to become clearer. The action scenes really move things along though the pace does vary as Addie spends a fair amount of time reviewing what she knows and doesn’t know. Luben carefully handles a complex story, allowing Addie to discover contradictions and dead ends, unhelpful personalities and unexpected curve balls.
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True #adoption story… Heather Katz #adoptionstories

When her teenage mother fell pregnant in the winter of 1971, Heather Katz’s mother hid her swelling stomach. “At seven months into her pregnancy, her mother finally uncovered the truth. The following day, her parents set events in motion that would alter the course of many lives to follow. The family arranged for my mother to leave her home state and move into the Edna Gladney Center for unwed mothers in Fort Worth, Texas, USA. No one in her hometown, including her siblings, was ever to know of me—and she was never to speak of my birth.”

Heather Katz

Heather Katz [photo secretsonsanddaughters.org]

Heather was adopted by a rabbi of a large reform congregation in San Antonio and his wife, director of family life education at Jewish Family Services. After years of trying to conceive, the couple received a call from the Gladney Center. It was to be a charmed childhood for Heather.

“We did not keep secrets in our family. From the moment I was adopted, my parents spoke openly of my adoption. When I was only three months old, my great-great aunt asked my mom when she was going to tell me I was adopted. My mom responded with, “I am just going to tell her that she is a girl, Anglo, American and adopted. Being adopted will always be part of her identity.” Indeed, it was. I do not recall a moment of not knowing I was adopted.”

Now with her own children, Heather wonders about her birth family. “I still wonder which unknown family member passed on their musical abilities to both my children and me; I wonder what family folklore I might never hear; and while I met my birth father once, there is much I cannot say or know.”

When she was 21, Heather’s adoptive parents employed an adoption search specialist. Her birth mother was found. After a break of a few months to think about it, Heather asked the social worker to make the telephone call. Her birth mother answered, saying, “My family does not know about her. I cannot talk at this time.”

“Your daughter only wishes for you to know that she is doing well and that she’d enjoy exchanging letters when you’re ready and willing,” said the intermediary.

For several months, Heather and her birth mother exchanged letters. Finally, they met. “We all exchanged hugs, made awkward chatter about hair highlights or something mundane like that, and then shared a light-hearted restaurant meal together. We spent close to four surreal hours with them. From that encounter, a phantom had been laid to rest and my ancestral tree had grown a few more branches. However, when I had asked questions about my birth story or my paternal family, I learned nothing more. At the time, it was too difficult for my mother to dredge up the past.” It would be a further 18 years before Heather’s maternal birth family knew of her existence.

Read Heather’s story in full at her blog, Secret Sons and Daughters, or follow her at Facebook.

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