Tracing Families

I was born in Edinburgh in 1980, and it is probably fair to say that my initial start to life was not the greatest.

My Story

I was born in Edinburgh in 1980, and it is probably fair to say that my initial start to life was not the greatest. As a baby, I was ill quite a lot, and my biological mother; who was very young at the time, was not well enough equipped to deal with herself, her family, and the task of raising an infant.

After about 8 or 9 months I was taken into foster care by a very kind and loving family who doted on me. Apparently, I was exceptionally bright yet mischievous at the same time. Some things do not change.

I was formally adopted just before my 2nd birthday and since that day I’ve always been thankful that my parents chose me, I couldn’t have picked better parents myself.

The fact I was adopted was never hidden from me. I was given two photo albums that had pictures and little paragraphs outlining every detail from my birth right up until I was 7 years old when my parents gave me the albums. I found it interesting and humbled that people had gone to the time and effort in order to do that. I felt it was a good way for me to get my head around it personally. There were no tantrums or questions that I really felt I had to ask, as far as I was concerned my parents were my parents and I was happy.

When I was 20, I looked into the possibility of trying to find my birth mother. I have never held a grudge or anything in regards to being put up for adoption regardless of what went on in the past, one day the idea simply came to me. I did some research and met with an adoption counsellor who advised me how to proceed further if I wanted to. After pondering about it for a couple of weeks, I decided to leave it. I honestly cannot remember why I did not pursue the matter then, though maybe deep down I felt maybe, someone might come looking for me instead. Funnily enough, they did…

Getting in Touch with Scottish Adoption

Nearly two years ago, I phoned my parents about visiting with my Fiancée on my birthday. While on the phone my mum told me that I had had a letter from Scottish Adoption enquiring as to my identity and if I was the correct person they were looking for. I just had a funny feeling I knew what was coming, but I left it until I came home to visit and gave Scottish Adoption a call. I spoke to Julie the counsellor, who told me that I had a half sister called Fiona who wanted to get in contact with me.

After a short period we arranged to write letters to each other, a good way of breaking the ice. It became obvious quite quickly that we shared quite a bit in common, despite me finding out she was nearly 13 years younger than me. Our sense of humour was one thing in common, facially to it was obvious after swapping pictures, and I am normally rubbish at spotting that type of stuff.

It freaked her out a bit before we swapped photos when Fiona asked what I looked like as I jokingly told her I was a 5 foot 6 inch Ginger haired sibling, when in fact we are both dark haired with freckles, and I’m actually 6 feet tall. I found that quite funny at the time when I was writing to her and I knew she would get the joke… eventually! We had other things in common, things like music, jobs I had done, Fiona liked the same music and was doing the similar types of jobs.

Even College courses were similar as we are both interested in sports. I think the decisive factor for me was when I found out that both Fiona and her family supported the same football team as me. Her mum was already having kittens at the other coincidences as it was!

From Letters to Email

Our letters continued back and forward for about a year, and then moved onto emailing. Trying to find a date to meet was quite tricky due to different things going on in both our lives, but we got there. We met recently in Edinburgh, firstly at the Scottish Adoption offices with Julie and Fiona’s mum both present. We chatted for a couple of hours and swapped photos etc. Then we both went into town for lunch, to get to know each other a bit better away from it all, just the two of us.

It was a weird day in that I was not nervous at all. I was more concerned that she would be ok with everything rather than my own personal feelings. It all went great, Fiona said so too and I do not think she was lying…

I think the fact that it had taken nearly two years from first contact, to actually meeting, helped us too. The age difference was one thing that could have been an issue. Rushing into a meeting might have left us both a bit, not disappointed, but maybe a little unsure. Getting to know each other’s sense of humour and things, eased all that. She will probably go all shy at me for putting this down on paper! She is funny, just not quite as much as me and she definitely got the looks out of us both.

I am her big brother and have grown quite protective of her already… in a good way. She is my little sister and I would not change that for anything.

Our Social Worker’s perspective

Fiona had been in touch a few times through her teenage years.  Initially looking for more information about her adoptive story and as she got older looking for her older birth sibling.  Her adoptive parents were supportive and involved each step of the way.

We did not locate David the first few times that we looked for him but two years ago when I did another search, I found an address that was potentially his parents.  Fiona and I met and we agreed that I would send them a letter for David and ask them to forward it onto him.

Fiona knew that it might be the wrong address and that even if we did find him he might not want to have contact.  We were also sure that he was unaware of her existence.

David rang and I explained that he had a younger sister who would like to have contact with him.  He had not known he had a sister and whilst excited, he took time to discuss it with his Fiancée and parents before committing to having contact.  It was important that David had the same information about his birth family that Fiona had before they started getting in touch with each other.  Therefore, time was taken to share information about his birth mother who had died many years previously and to share his adoption records with him.

We then started the business of letters going back and forth between David and Fiona – to keep everyone’s confidentiality all correspondence comes through Scottish Adoption.

Fiona was heading off overseas for a while so we moved to e-mail correspondence still through myself.

After about eighteen months, we started to talk about when David and Fiona would meet.  A lot of thought and chat went into this first meeting, which happened here at Scottish Adoption.  Fiona brought her Mum along for support while David came alone.  Everyone was very nervous (even David) but they quickly relaxed and chatted for a couple of hours, sharing photos and stories from their childhoods.  The meeting went so well that Fiona and David felt comfortable to head off to lunch together.  My role in their relationship is over now as they continue their contact independently although I am always here if they want to make contact with me in future.

The time taken for Fiona and David to get to know each other through letters and e-mails was invaluable as it allowed them to build the beginnings of a relationship in a safe and supported way.  When they finally met, it was at a time that both felt ready for this step.   By taking things slowly and with support they have begun what will be a positive relationship through the rest of their lives.  Their families and David’s partner were also on this journey with them, and the time taken to get to know each other prior to the meeting also allowed them to adjust to the idea of their child/partner having a sibling, and making space for this person in all their lives.

Adopted Young Adult

Sometimes I wonder if many other people have gone through what I have gone through, have felt the same emotions and feelings I have felt…

Belonging

Sometimes I wonder if many other people have gone through what I have gone through, have felt the same emotions and feelings I have felt, shed the tears that I have shed and experienced the joys and happiness that I have experienced, asked the many questions I have asked, had the arguments that I have had, thought about the future like I have thought, and had to endure the daunting thought that your life could have turned out to be something completely different, with different people, different faces, different holidays, different home. That is the adventure of being adopted.

From the moment that I was born, “a little bundle of joy”, I was destined to lead a life different from others. My birth mother was young, un-married, had no career prospects or a supportive family; circumstance’s really, she could never have been able to offer me a life as I have now

Adoption, it’s not like you see in the movies, nothing like it at all, in fact, being adopted is something really special and in my case was not confusing or hectic, I don’t have this whole past life story full of traumatic events, and so far I have led a completely “normal” life. However being adopted has most definitely had an impact on my life in more ways than one. Despairing times and amazing times. I feel blessed that I was adopted. There is no knowing where I could have ended up, Paris living on the Champs Elysees, daughter of an artist, or even living a superstar lifestyle in California who knows I could have ended up with celebrity parents such as Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, older sister to their adopted bi-racial son, Connor. I feel fortunate I wasn’t as they are now divorced and I would have been a child of a broken marriage!

Holiday Confusion

However there was a time in my life, when on what should have been an amazing holiday in Australia, sailing around the Great Barrier Reef on a beautiful yacht with friends, at the age of ten, the questions started to rush around my brain, all the, Why’s, the When’s and the How’s. I was bombarded with them. I felt heart heavy, heartbroken, heartsick to think that, this wasn’t my “real” family. These emotions of rage, sadness and confusion led to me taking it out on my mum. The black beast of hate in my breast filled me with a resentment and loathing for my adopted mother. I felt like Jekyll and Hyde, two different people, two split emotions fighting within me. I know I loved my mum but still there was a nagging feeling of guilt that my love should only lie with my birth mum. Grief, pain and melancholy over came me, was my life a living lie?

Assaulted by the Why’s, the When’s and the How’s, I had to have answers. I could not bring myself to ask my mum, she had told me why I was adopted, but I needed a thorough and deeper understanding and although she had provided me with all the essentials I needed, she could not provide me with this and I didn’t want her to.

Mum Knows Best

Fortunately for me, my Mum saw how troubled and lost I was feeling at this time, she looked for help and found it by getting in touch with the Scottish Adoption Services, that’s when I met Kathryn. I felt that I could say things to Kathryn that I couldn’t express to my Mum without the fear of hurting her feelings, through talking and asking questions with Kathryn slowly over time I began to feel happier and gained a greater understanding about my adoption that allowed me to feel at peace. On the up side of this process I met four other girls that had been adopted. I had never met another adopted person before apart from my brother! This experience showed me that there were others out there who had been in my shoes; I found that these girls I befriended each had a completely different adoption story.

I am now glowing inside to know that I have such a caring and loving family. I have resolved my questions and fears and look to the future with an optimistic heart and being adopted is not going to stop me or change anything. From a young girl who felt displaced and confused, I look now at all the amazing people I have met and the wonderful friendships I hold so deeply in my heart. My cousin  always tells me “how weird it would be without [me]”.

I am adopted. I belong. I am a part of my family.