Tag Archives: adoption search

True #adoption story… June Horbury #adoptionstories

When June Horbury’s adoptive father died in December 2001, amongst his things she found a shabby old box which contained his legal documents. Inside was her adoption certificate issued by a court in Woodlands, Doncaster, Yorkshire. June was adopted when she was three weeks old. This is June’s story of how she found her birth family.

“I always knew I was adopted but as soon as I saw my birth mother’s name, Eileen Morris, on this old piece of paper, something stirred inside me and I knew I had to try and find her. My husband told me to leave well alone and, in some respects, I wish I had. A warning here, if you have been adopted and try to find your long lost family be prepared for failure or rejection.

“How could I find her? Questions were going round and round in my head. How do I start my search? How old was she when I was born?  Was I to presume she had married? How many years after my birth was this marriage? I attended the General Registry Office in London and after many visits I found her birth and marriage certificates. I now had her married surname. Anyone who is a family historian knows how time consuming it is to find one little piece of information. Eighteen years ago there wasn’t very much information on the internet. The My Family.com web site was only launched in December 1998.

“Once we had the surname my daughter and I wrote letters to all the people in the telephone book, in the Yorkshire region, with the surname Tyas. We said we were looking for family tree information and included contact telephone numbers. We received many phone calls but no information about Eileen Tyas. We had given up hope of trying to find her. Then I was at my daughter’s house and the phone rang. The caller said she had information about Eileen Tyas and that she was Eileen’s daughter, Carol. I was speechless. An invitation was given to my daughter and I to visit Carol at her home. We were made very welcome. She told us that Eileen was still alive and living in her own home in Doncaster. I was going to arrange another visit but my daughter said we should tell them why we were there.  It wasn’t just to gain information to produce a family tree. They were shocked as they didn’t know of my existence.

“At first, Eileen denied she had given birth to me but eventually said it was true. I sent her photographs of myself and my family and told her I had had a wonderful life. She replied giving information about herself but said she did not want to meet me, and returned my photographs. The most upsetting part of the letter was when she told me about my conception and that she would not give me my birth father’s name. I was devastated by this news.

“However, I did appreciate the circumstances she found herself in following my birth. The year was 1938. She was an 18-year-old unmarried mother, living with an uncaring foster mother and a father working away. Her own childhood had been tragic and that was why she was living with a foster mother. Was she to have a termination considering the way I had been conceived?  Would I be a reminder of the conception and what effect would this have on her seeing me every day of her life? If she kept me how could she possibly look after me and bring me up? The only thing she could do was to have me adopted.

“I still wanted to find my birth father. However, the law states that people adopted before 12th November, 1975 are required to receive counselling before being given access to adoption information. This is required because some natural parents and adopters may have been led to believe that their children would never be able to trace their original names or identity of their parents. People adopted after that date are not legally required to have counselling. I was 62 but had to see a counsellor, which I did.”

June contacted the Doncaster Magistrates and Family Court and, after completing application forms, attended the court. “It was very official. I was told I must only address any questions to the Clerk of the Court. I believe the other two people in attendance were Magistrates or JP’s and they would decide if any official documents could be released to me. There was very little information in my file. Just a letter from my adoptive mother’s doctor who instigated the adoption. Sadly my birth father’s name was not on any of the documents. The Clerk told me that in 1938 adoptions were dealt with very differently.

“I was still not giving up trying to find him. My half-sister gave me information about a very elderly lady, Dorothy May Parry, who was the daughter of Eileen’s foster mum and lived in the same house as Eileen in 1938. However, she would not meet me although she did tell me my mother had a long-term boyfriend of 21 months, but said she couldn’t remember the name. I looked at the electoral roles to see if a male lived in the house at the time my mother lived there. I found the name Edward Lyford and checked this out. Had I exhausted all avenues to find my father? When my birth mother died another opportunity presented itself. Amongst her belongings was a photograph of a young man on a motor bike. Scribbled on the back of the photograph was the name Cliff Dawson. Was this another lead? This photograph wasn’t the only secret which was revealed. Something which happened at my mother’s funeral shocked the family, once again producing yet another family member.”

June is keen to make clear she never felt abandoned or unwanted by her birth mother. “I was three weeks old when I was handed over to my adoptive parents but it wasn’t until over 60 years later that I discovered a shocking secret. I was devastated.”

June’s Bio
June was born in a home for unmarried mothers in Hyde Park, Doncaster. She was adopted by a miner and his wife and spent her childhood years in the York Road area of the town. On leaving school she got a job as a Junior Typist at the NCB and was eventually promoted to PA for the Chief Radiologist for the Yorkshire Coal Field. Upon marriage she moved to the Barnsley and Sheffield areas but along with her husband Mike, and their two children, moved back to live in Hatfield in 1970. Mike was the local policeman and was nicknamed the Sheriff of Hatfield by his colleagues.

Once the children were at school she began studying for a Cert (Ed) at Huddersfield Technical College, now Huddersfield University, and two years later for a BA (Ed) at Hull University. Throughout her teaching career June taught at several schools in the Doncaster area including Hatfield, Don Valley and her final position as Head of Department at Thorne Grammar School.

Her early attempts at writing began as a 12-year-old when she wrote an article which was published in the Doncaster Gazette, and many years later a story about adoption for My Heritage which was awarded a prize.

When she discovered her birth family, they encouraged her to produce a family tree and obviously this took many years of research. However, this wasn’t enough for them or her so after collecting old photographs, family letters and listening to stories she decided to write her autobiography Life after Adoption which was produced during lockdown and published in September 2020.

June’s Book June Horbury“When my adoptive father died, I was looking through his things and came across a shabby, old box which contained his legal documents, and there it was, my adoption certificate. I always knew I was adopted but as soon as I saw my birth mother’s name on this old piece of paper, something stirred inside me and I  knew at that moment, I had to try and find her. My husband told me to ‘leave well alone’ and in some respects he was right, as when I did find her I discovered a dreadful secret.  I was devastated.  But it didn’t end there, as following her death some years later, another secret was revealed which shocked my family. Had my husband been right when he said, ‘Leave well alone’? This story is told over eight decades from just before the start of World War Two and depicts life and times from then until the present day.”
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If you like this true story, read:-
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#BookReview ‘Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs’ by @jane_eales #familyhistory #mystery

This is the true story of one woman’s search for her birth family which crosses continents from South Africa and Rhodesia, to Australia, the UK, and Holland. Jane Eales discovered she was adopted when she was 19. Her adoptive parents made her swear never to tell anyone else about her adoption and never to search for her birth parents. Jane Eales

She lived with the uncertainty of not knowing for 40 years until, when both her adoptive parents were dead, she started to search. The journey crosses continents as she uncovers a family’s pre-World War Two flight as Hitler threatens, the politics of Southern Africa, and spying during WW2. The ‘Spotted Dogs’ in the title is a reference to Dalmatian dogs; the author’s birth mother, Phyllis, was a renowned UK dog breeder.

For Jane Eales, the promise she made to her adoptive parents was a difficult one to break. They were the only parents she had known, they cared for her, she loved them though she found it difficult to accept and understand their need for secrecy when it made her own life so ill-defined. What prompted her to search? With a learning-disabled son, she was advised to check her own genetic history.

The story is told slowly and carefully, starting with her own childhood and her adopted father’s Jewish family, leading first to a half-brother, cousins, before identifying her birth mother Phyllis. Although this is fascinating, and adds to the final picture, I wanted to get to the bit about spying promised in the book’s title. For that I had to be patient. At times, the book has the feeling of ‘my family’s story’, but the author’s honesty about coming to terms with the decisions taken in the 1940s when times were very different, make this book a worthy read for anyone interested in autobiographies about adoption or family history.
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If you like this, try:-
‘Blue Eyed Son’ by Nicky Campbell
Fred’s Funeral’ by Sandy Day
Relative Strangers’ by Hunter Davies

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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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Alice Collins Plebuch
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Sheila Mercier

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True #adoption story… Shaye Woolard #adoptionstories

Shaye Woolard has been trying to find information about her birth parents since she was in middle school. At 18, she applied to the agency she had been adopted from but was told she could only be given ‘non-identifying’ facts. It took 11 years of persistence, telephone calls and emails, before she learned anything new.

‘To finally know something as simple as what time of day I was born was amazing! The information also included my parent’s height and weight measurements, and the fact that my bio-mom was 16 years old when she had had me. That helped me understand why she did not keep me. Both of my parents were from religious families, but different denominations. My mom’s biological father was unknown to her, which makes me wonder if she ever felt or feels the way that I do.’

Shaye Woolard

Shaye Woolard

When Shaye asked the agency what else she could do to get information about her family medical history, ‘they told me they would notify me when my biological mother died. What a cold response. I hung up the phone and cried. This felt like a personal attack and reminded me of the awful remarks people used to make to me while I was growing up. Some called me “adopted trash.” It sucks knowing that some people just don’t care. I had reached another dead end—back to square one. Still, I took in a deep breath and decided to keep trying.’

Now she has children of her own, the issue has become a burning one. ‘I now wish to give my children as much information as I can about our side of the family and me, including our medical history. I have ongoing health issues. I see doctor after doctor trying to sort them out, and each time, I am asked the same thing: “What is your family medical history?” I answer, “I was adopted and I don’t know anything.” They look at me as though they don’t know where to start with the medical testing. Sometimes they even ask: “Is there is any way you can find your family history?” And I always reply, “I desperately want to know and hope to someday.”’

Shaye is a wandering adult adoptee, but who is now blessed with a family of her own. Having to deal with multiple health issues, she hates hearing the repetitive question: what is your family medical history? She feels like she is cheating her kids out of knowing where they come from, and she wishes she knew the same. Shaye was adopted in April of 1985 from Smithlawn Adoption Agency in Lubbock, Texas.

This article was originally published on the ‘Secret Sons and Daughters’ blog in June 2014.

Read Shaye’s story in full.
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If you like this true story, read:-
Julie Wassmer 
Philip Sais
Brian Moore

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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.’
Watch an excerpt.
Read Christine’s story.

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Sheila Mercier
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Mary Anna King

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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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True #adoption story… Dave Lowe #adoptionstories

Dave Lowe, 57, had been given up for adoption when he was just a few months old and his mother was unable to cope. He searched for years for his birth family. Two television programmes – The Jeremy Kyle Show, and Long Lost Family – were unable to help. So his daughter Louise took up the search. Via Genes Reunited and Facebook, she made contact with a woman called Zoe Anderson. Zoe was Dave’s birth sister.

Dave Lowe

Dave Lowe with birth mum Maureen [photo: North News and Pictures]

His birth mother Maureen sent him a text message, “At last my dearest wish has come true – to find you before I die.” Dave was reunited with Maureen, two brothers and a sister. He said, “This has made my life complete.”

The trail was broken when the family had moved to Bradford, West Yorkshire, from the Newcastle in the North East. Dave said, “I would never blame my mum for what happened all those years ago. She was so young, only a teenager, and by giving me away showed responsibility far beyond her years. She knew that I would be well looked after.” Maureen remembers, “I was heartbroken when I had to give him away, his father was absent and I was so young and would have really struggled. My last memory was of him as a tiny baby in my arms and now he is towering over me. I couldn’t be more proud.”

Dave Lowe

Dave Lowe, right, with his two brothers, sister and birth mum [photo: North News and Pictures]

Dave had despaired of ever finding his mother again. “I tried to go through agencies but all they wanted was money and the costs were extortionate. I never knew that Louise had been doing some digging of her own to surprise me.” He later found out that his birth family had been searching for him for 25 years.

Read Dave Lowe’s full interview at The Sun.

If you like this true story, read:-
Philip Sais
George Orwell
George Dennehy 

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True #adoption story… Whitney Casey #adoptionstories

Whitney Casey was adopted at six months old by the Casey family and grew up in Nashville. She never forgot she was Korean American thanks to the subtle reminders that she was different — like the time she went into Kmart and a five-year-old girl pointed to her, saying, “Mom, it’s Mulan.”

Whitney Casey

Lee and Whitney 2014 [photo: Sara Rayman/Whitney Fritz]

‘It was never spiteful or anything, but people would notice that I look different,’ Whitney told NBC News ‘Sometimes you can forget that you look different. Sometimes you’re surprised when you look in the mirror and don’t look like the rest of the family.’

In 2010, Whitney went to work in South Korea near Seoul. She had no intention of tracing her birth parents, but her adoptive family urged her to contact her adoption agency. She describes what followed as an ‘out of body experience’. Told to expect an update in a month’s time, her case worker got in touch 48 hours later and the next day she met the Jeons, her omma (mother) and appa (father). They sat and talked for an hour. Whitney told them about her adoptive family, her siblings, and work. She asked them why they put her up for adoption. There were no tears, Whitney recalls, just relief and gratitude for the time they could spend together. The anxiety and nervousness slowly simmered off as her omma and appa had a heart-to-heart conversation with Whitney about the first few days she was born.

Whitney Casey

Whitney [L] with Appa & Omma & her two brothers [photo: Lee and Whitney Fritz]

Whitney worried that her two birth brothers would struggle to accept her. ‘I didn’t know if they would hate me for coming back and disturbing the peace. I didn’t want to disrupt the boys’ relationship with their parents, and I didn’t want to damage any years they had of them.’ But her fears were unfounded. ‘I went through a coping process, but everything’s fine now,” she said. “I’m so glad that it went smoothly.’

Whitney met her husband Lee at a Korean-American adoption conferene in Albany, New York, in 2012. “I think it’s interesting we have this thing that doesn’t need to be spoken between us that we know sometimes the feelings are hard and things can be complicated, but we can just have an understanding between us,” said Lee.

Whitney Casey

Lee and Whitney [photo: wethelees.wordpress.com]

Read Lee and Whitney’s blog, We The Lees.
Read the full NBC News article about Whitney’s adoption story.

If you like this true story, read:-
Joy Lieberthal Rho
Denise Temple
Jazz Boorman 

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#Adoption #Mystery ‘The Pearl Sister’ by Lucinda Riley @lucindariley

I really enjoyed The Pearl Sister, the fourth in Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters adoption mysteries. While Maia, Ally and Star have already investigated their birth stories, Celaeno, CeCe, has shown no interest in her own. She is feeling sorry for herself, alone now that Star has become independent. Until her curiosity is piqued. Pa Salt’s lawyer tells her about a bequest, a large sum of money, and a photograph of two unidentified men. He advises CeCe to investigate Kitty Mercer from Broome in Australia. Lucinda Riley

On her journey to Australia, CeCe stops off in Thailand, staying at Railey Beach where she has holidayed in the past with Star. As she wonders why she is there alone, feeling envious of Star’s new home and new love in England, she meets a mysterious man on the beautiful beach. They bond over the morning sunrise, both are hurting – CeCe is missing Star and feeling betrayed by her sister’s newfound life, while Ace is hiding a big secret he cannot, or will not, explain. Riley hints that behind the beauty of Railey Beach there is a dark, sordid side. Could Ace be involved in drugs? Then when CeCe steps off the plane in Australia, she discovers Ace has been arrested and believes CeCe betrayed him to the press. As the journalists identify CeCe’s name and location, she runs away to Broome.

As with all the earlier novels in the series, the story of The Pearl Sister is told in two strands. CeCe is in 2008, Kitty Mercer’s story starts in 1906. The eldest daughter of a Edinburgh preacher, Kitty goes on a nine month trip to Australia as companion to the wealthy Mrs McCrombie. It changes Kitty’s life. She drinks alcohol for the first time, kisses a man, and acts immodestly in ways that would shock her clergyman father. Two men, twin brothers, pay attention to her. Drummond is the dangerous brother, the one who kisses her. But Kitty reverts to type by marrying the steady, safe, Andrew Mercer, and moves to Broome where he runs the family’s pearl fishing company for his father.

I found Kitty’s story enthralling, she is a true rebel at a time when women were finding their feet and their voices. She has a way of identifying people needing help. Along her life’s journey she collects waifs and strays, rescuing them from hunger, mistreatment, poverty and racism, giving them opportunities, security and winning their loyalty. Each of them comes to play a critical role in Kitty’s life; from Camira, the pregnant Aboriginal servant girl thrown from the house by her master, to Sarah, the fifteen year old orphan met on a boat from England who has a gift with the sewing needle.

Australia the country and the lives and customs of its Aboriginal people are a dominant presence throughout this novel. Be warned, it will make you want to visit. Throughout it all runs the enticing descriptions of Aboriginal art, by real artists such as Albert Namatjira who lived and worked at the Hermannsburg Lutheran Mission outside Alice Springs, which CeCe visits.

The loose ends come together in the end though Riley did keep me guessing on a couple of the links. The significance of Ace and CeCe’s time in Thailand was one such puzzle. These are all hefty books, but I read this one quickly. It’s my favourite of the series so far which seems to get better with every book.
BUY

Next in the series is The Moon Sister, the story of Tiggy.

Read my reviews of the first three novels in the series:-
The Seven Sisters
The Storm Sister
The Shadow Sister

If you like this, try:-
Pale as the Dead’ by Fiona Mountain
Blood Atonement’ by Dan Waddell
‘Blue-Eyed Son’ by Nicky Campbell 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE PEARL SISTER by @lucindariley #adoption #mystery https://wp.me/paZ3MX-aP via @SandraDanby