*Alice* did not know she had been adopted until her mother passed away. Sorting through some paperwork she found some documents that turned her life upside down. For it was then that she discovered that the man she had called Dad, was not her biological Dad. He had, in fact, adopted her when he married her Mother when Alice was very young.
Aside from the expected emotions, this discovery would bring up, Alice also found she had nowhere to turn. The Man she knew as Dad had passed away years previously. Her mother was gone. She had a very elderly Aunt who may have known something but was infirm, and Alice herself was in her 70’s.
Facing the stark reality that her Birth father was very likely to have passed away also, Alice carried on making arrangements for her Mothers funeral, whilst dealing with the subsequent grief and loss of her Mothers passing and this shocking discovery.
Alice decided she wanted some answers. Her elderly Aunt was able to tell her the name of the Man that fathered her, that he was a ‘little older than her Mum’, and that he was from somewhere in London. Both his First name and Surname were very common. Alice simply didn’t have the means or knowledge to start searching, particularly when the adoption was over 75 years prior.
Alice soon found that her only option was to instruct an Intermediary Agency, but as the records were so old, it proved to be very difficult. Once they were received, there was so little in them with regards to her Father that there was no further information to go on. This was because Alice had stayed with her Birth Mother, so it was not an adoption in the full sense. She had simply been adopted when her Mother married. Back then little care was given to records in those circumstances.
Because Alice had already had an interview with an Ofsted regulated intermediary to access her files, she had already received the counselling required to start a search if you were adopted before 1975. This meant she was free to use anyone of her choice to conduct the search. Alice asked for my help.
With so very little to go on, I knew this would be a lengthy and difficult case. It had already been with After Adoption for 8 years. After this Alice had contacted Long Lost Family on TV and didn’t even get to the phone interview stage. By now Alice was in her 80’s. With the full support of her loving Children and Grandchildren, she put her faith in me and I was absolutely focussed on solving this case.
I identified 12 possible matches based on her Father’s name, his estimated age and the fact that he lived in ( so we had to assume was born in- London). Every one of them had passed away.
The next stage was to start a family tree for every single possibility and locate living relatives for each one, and simply and discreetly contact them, hoping they could help.
On the 9th family I researched, I connected with a lady. I was honest about the reasons for my search, and the lady recalled hearing her Parents argue about another woman that her Dad knew before he married her Mother. This ‘other woman’ had the same name as Alice’s Mother…..it was enough for the lady to agree to DNA testing.
I advised the ladies that I would not put them in touch with each other until the results had been returned, this was to prevent any bonding or any other emotions until DNA had spoken. I arranged for the tests to be done without the ladies seeing each other, and shortly afterwards, a match was confirmed. In her 80’s- Alice had finally found a younger Half-Sister and a Half Brother.
Following some clear advice around expectations, pitfalls, and guidance, they began to first write to each other through my address. They exchanged photographs, and then finally spoke on the phone. A few months later, they met for the first time. This was all done with the recommendation that they spoke to a qualified counsellor beforehand, or for support afterwards.
One day Alice’s life was turned upside down. It took 10 years in total from finding out she had another Father, to actually solving the mystery. She didn’t give up and neither did we.
It took 18 months for me to find her relatives. Under the circumstances, I am still incredibly proud of this. I am also incredibly proud to tell you that she is still in touch with her Siblings. Some cases are relatively simple and others can be extremely complicated. What it took in Alice’s case was an absolute back to basics genealogy review of each ‘likely’ family, and sticking to tried and tested methods, over and over until we got a result. We had to go a long way back through archives before we could employ any modern-day detective skills.
Sometimes old records and newspaper clippings win the day over fancy databases. And Alice won my heart.
*Names have been changed to protect our client’s identity