In my last article titled An Abandoned Lost Soul, I spoke about my baby sister who was born in 1953 the very year that I experienced my first paranormal events, of her subsequent death when she was 6 weeks old, and my father deciding that the family would never ever discuss my baby sister again as the pain was too much for my mother. As I loved my mother very much, I reluctantly agreed never to talk to her or anyone else about my baby sister, despite the aching that I carried inside of me.
I tried hard the rest of that year, to understand why I felt so deeply about my baby sister given that she was only 6 weeks old when my father said she had died.
My maternal grand was still living, but she lived many miles away and as my father was serving in the Royal Navy, we kept moving around so I never got to talk to her to ask her to hold a séance just one more time so I could let my sister know that I would always carry her in my heart and in my memory. No doubt, she would not agree given that she had forsaken her interest in spiritualism many years ago due to something that occurred between her and her spirit guide.
Being young, I got on with my life but never forgot my baby sister. As I was in the local church choir, I used to attend choir practice twice a week. One Saturday after I had been singing solo at a wedding, my mum came to the church to collect me as it was dark. It was the first time she had ever come to the church to meet me and so I had a great desire and urge to ask her which grave was my baby sisters. I knew that I would be breaking my promise to my father but the pain I carried for her loss, was at times becoming unbearable and I needed to know so I could emotionally and spiritually move on.
I decided to bite the bullet and accept whatever consequences would come my way, although even the thought of my mother getting upset, was in itself, causing me just as much anguish and emotional turmoil.
As we left the church, I asked her where my baby sister was buried, to which she said pointing to a small stone among the graves, “over there”. She would not stop to let me go over to say hi to my sister but of course, every day I went to the church for choir practice or to sing at a wedding or funeral, I would tap the stone and say hi to my sister and say that I still loved and missed her very much.
A year went by and my father came home as he had got another posting to the far north in Scotland, and so we moved up there with him as it was a shore based posting. Life went on as it does, and two years later he was posted to somewhere else and then again overseas but this time it was an accompanied positing so we all went with him.
Towards the end of 1959, I was reaching the time when I had to decide on a future and so decided to join the armed forces like my father, which I did in December 1959. I stayed in the military until 1971 and for reasons I do not wish to go into here, I fell out with my family (in essence it was my father and siblings and not my mother), and so I did not go home given that I was now 27 years of age and was totally independent.
Throughout the years, I experienced many NDE’s, OBE’s and CAD’s, and my psychic abilities were growing. However, I wanted to be true to my mother so I ignored them. Perhaps it should be said here, that one main reason my mother refused to acknowledge her own clairvoyance and psychic abilities, was that we were all Protestants and my father was Roman Catholic as was all his ancestors going back to 1666. Whilst he was not a practicing Catholic, he scoffed at spiritualism, and the psychic phenomenon that surrounded it, and was want to belittle my gran and laugh at her belief systems. I myself had no concerns about his attitude as we were estranged but I felt I had a duty to respect my mother’s approach, which is what I did.
Throughout all this time, my thoughts and connection I felt towards my baby sister had never lessened and whilst I had long since come to terms with the fact that she was no longer with us, I never really accepted the fact that she was not around as I often felt a link directly to her.
Decades went by and I had children of my own and I always told them about my baby sister who died young, for no other reason than I felt strongly that she was a part of our family history, even though no one in my immediate family ever spoke about it, this still obviously, being a taboo subject.
As I approached my 42nd birthday, my father developed a life threatening illness, and according to a relation, un-beknown to my mother, on his death bed he said that my baby sister did not die back in 1953 but was given up for adoption as he was not the father, and he was not going to bring up another man’s illegitimate child. However, despite me being at his funeral, this piece of information was not passed on to me for another ten years when I was 52.
To say I was shocked is an understatement for two reasons. First why my relative waited so long to tell me what my father said on his death bed, and second, as I had always believed her to be dead and now with the thought that she could still be alive somewhere, I felt betrayed by my father feeling devastated with regards my sense of respect, truth and the concept of family.
This was the time when all those childhood events fell into place. I suddenly knew who ‘uncle’ Jim was. Why we kept going to stay with him at weekends when my dad was away. Why my dad came home early from overseas to tell us that our baby sister had died, and we were made to promise never to raise the subject ever again, and that ‘she’ must be forgotten as she could never come back and it would upset our mum.
Over the years that followed, I started to wonder about what my young sister was like and did she know she was adopted. What if she knew she was but had no other details about her biological family? What if she was looking for us but had no idea where to look. What if she had had a terrible life with her adoptive parents? How would she know that someone out there thought of her for sixty years and that she was always loved and never forgotten? And then of course, the other side of such situations – what if she had no feelings for her biological family which would include my-self? How would I cope if I found her and she rejected me along with my family? The pain was terrible to live with but live with it I did.
Around this time my own children, now adults themselves, asked me to draw up our family tree so they had some idea of their heritage and ancestral background. As I started on doing the family tree I started to think about trying to trace my younger sister which was not easy. Then out of the blue I found a record of her birth certificate which clearly stated that she had been given up for adoption at six weeks of age.
On the birth certificate it showed the full names of my parents, along with the address she was born at and which we lived in back in 1953, along with the occupations of my father and my mother’s maiden name. This confused me as clearly on her birth certificate it said that her father was my father yet clearly he could not have been as he had been away at sea for two years. I rationalised this by thinking that back in 1953 alone and scared, given the stigma attached to illegitimate children and the fact that the family would know that she had been having an affair behind my father’s back, she cannot have been thinking straight when she went to register the birth, for when she was asked the name of the father, she put my father down.
In retrospect, I could see the logic in this. My father was a catholic as was all his family although my mother was not, nor were we as we were all Protestant (Church of England which is another story!). I could see how my mother would feel about registering her daughter without a father’s name and clearly she did not wish to put down the real father’s name. For whatever reason, I felt she did what she thought was right back then. With hindsight now I can see that my father was not amused and did not think she was right to put his name down.
I began to wonder if my sister had a copy of her birth certificate and if so how she dealt with the knowledge (given that this would all she would have) that according to her birth certificate, her parents gave her up for adoption. Given that my fathers’ military details were on her certificate, she would know that she was not given up due to her parents not being able to afford having her. And of course, I realised that she would not know that she had two brothers and another sister.
Being a social worker, I knew the law on trying to trace adopted children and knowing that her adoptive parents will have changed her Christian name and she would have a new surname, the search was hopeless, but I never gave up trying.
In 2010 when I was sixty six years of age, my elderly mother developed dementia, which got so bad she required specialist care twenty four hours a day. A few months after she was admitted to the residential care home, I was having a conversation with one of my children who said that it was a great pity that even if I wanted to talk to my mother about the situation, she would possible have no memory of it, which meant that I would never be able to know if she carried the pain of being forced to give up her baby back in 1953 or whether she managed to blot it out of her memory. Given that my mother is a quiet spoken, sensitive person, it is obvious to me that she carried a great deal of inner pain with her over the ensuing years and maybe, just maybe, she did manage to blot the memory completely out.
Finally, when I could not get any further with trying to trace my sister, I went to the Salvation Army to see if they could help trace her but the news was as I expected, it was illegal to try to trace adopted children for a variety of reasons which I understood very well but I just had to try one last time. Over the next few weeks I started to come to the reality that I would never be able to trace her and she would never know that she had a brother who always thought of her even when I thought she had died before being told otherwise. Without a doubt, this played heavy on my mind.
Then one Monday morning in June 2013, I received an email message from a friend saying that she had received a message through the web site she ran, from someone asking about me and could they have my phone number and address as she thought we might be related through my mother.
At the time this really did not mean anything as I was registered on several ancestry web sites and had already made contact with distant relatives through both sides of my family, i.e. my father’s side who were from Scottish and Italian stock and my mother’s family who were from Welsh and French stock, so assumed it was someone wanting information given that I had a great deal posted on the ancestry web sites.
The person left their phone number so I rang it but for some reason it was not connected so I left it at that. A few days later I tried the number again and still no connection so started to wonder if it was a scam of sorts so forgot about it. Then a week later I received an email direct from this person asking me to ring them as they really wanted to speak to me about my mother as they thought we were directly related. I rang my friend whose web site was first contacted to be told that no personal details had been given out so I had no idea where she got my email address from.
The more I thought about it I was convinced it was a scam of some sort so I replied with a curt email message: “Tell me your name. Where are you from. Why do you think we are related. What relation to me do you think you are and then I will possibly ring you if I am satisfied you are genuine”.
The reply I got was short and to the point: “I do not want to discuss any of this over the internet and would like to talk to you personally, please ring me I am genuine”.
I was in two minds as to ring the number they gave as they would not even tell me if they were male or female let along answer any of the questions I had posed. I wanted to believe that it was my young sister but could not work out how she knew that I even existed let along know my name and contact details.
A few days later I received another email asking me to trust them and ring the number they gave me and this time they added, “I think we have the same mother”.
My senses were now buzzing with excitement and adrenalin surged unabated though my body as I knew deep down that it was my baby sister and so with bated breath I rang the number. When they answered it I was stunned. It sounded just like my mother sounded when she was very much younger (she is now 91) and I knew right away that it was my baby sister. She said immediately, “Hello, thank you for ringing me. I do not want to upset you or shock you but….” Before she could finish her sentence, I replied: “Yes I know, your’ my baby sister”.
Silence. Then she asked, “How did you know I existed”. I then told her what I knew. She grew up thinking that she was an only child and her parents did not want her which is why she was put up for adoption. She went on to say she was now called Wendy and she knew she was illegitimate but before she could say any more, I suggested that we not talk over the phone but I go down to meet her and we could talk face to face which she agreed although I did tell her that my father had passed away in 1986 and that whilst our mother was still living, she had Dementia and was living in a specialist residential care home.
Once I had put the phone down, I had a great deal more of the jigsaw from the information my sister had given me. It seems that she was told when she was five years of age that she was adopted and when she was in her teens, she got a copy of her birth certificate and despite being initially upset as to why her parents (as shown on her birth certificate) would give her up for adoption, she was happy with her adoptive parents so she put it aside and got on with her life.
The next two weeks were a roller coaster of an emotional ride for both of us as I later learned when we finally got together. I drove down and got there early but she was not in so I waited outside her house. She rang to see if I was there and said she would be a few minutes. She pulled up in her car and the moment she got out of it I saw my mother as she was when she was much younger. They had the same hair colour, same physical build, same eyes, nose and even walked in a similar way. We embraced and I felt as if I had always known her and that we had always been together. Despite having siblings, my sister only appeared to have a connection with me, and despite her only being 6 weeks old when she was adopted and that was 60 years ago, there was a unique bond between us.
We spent the next week sharing information which is where this story really starts in a way.
Wendy (her adopted name), had had a good life with her adoptive parents, loving and caring not only to her but to her adopted brother who her parents had earlier adopted. As a child she never felt a need to know anything about her biological family and whilst a few times during her adolescence she had questions she felt she wanted answers to, after a while she decided to stop worrying about it and to get on with her own life.
As she got older and had children of her own, they started to ask questions about her biological family and it was from this that she began to wonder about them. The years passed and she did nothing about it until one day in February 2013, she once again came across her birth certificate and started to revisit all those questions she had asked herself as a child. Why did they put me up for adoption? What was the family composition i.e. do I have any brothers or sisters? Is my biological parent’s still alive? Do they ever think of me? What is the story behind it all?
Starting with the information on her birth certificate, she decided to travel to see the house where she was born in. She knew that the chances of any family still living there were slim but she had to go and see. Her disappointment became a reality when she found that the current occupiers of the house had only been there 18 years and had no knowledge of who lived there in 1953.
She returned home feeling low and despondent but one of her friends suggested that she look through the telephone book of that area to see how many names there were with the same surname as that on her birth certificate, living within a five mile radius of the house where she was born and we lived at in 1953. She found seven surnames the same as that which was on her birth certificate. Having nothing to lose she rang the first one to be told that no there was no connection with the names of the adults on the birth certificate. Then she rang the second number on her list and got the same reply. Starting to feel doubtful that this was a good idea, she rang the third number and again got the same reply. She was about to give up when a friend told her that as she had rung three of the seven numbers, what else did she have to lose by ringing the last four.
Before she had an opportunity to ring the fourth number, the lady she spoke to on the third call rang back to say that yes she did have a connection with the names of the adults she gave them although the man was called by another name which is what threw her when she was asked if she knew them. My aunty asked Wendy why she wanted to know and when Wendy told her that she was adopted at six weeks old, my aunt said immediately, “oh yes, I know all about you, you’re the illegitimate baby girl that your mother had to another man”. My sister was shocked as she had no idea that the man who appeared on her birth certificate was not her real father. My aunt went on to say that when my mother got pregnant, she kept it a secret from the family and when she was born, my mother registered it without my father knowing and put his name down as the father.
Because they lived in a council house which they got because my father was in the military, he was notified that his child allowance was about to change because of the new baby. He secured compassionate leave and they flew him home which is when I saw him the kitchen when I got home from school that fateful day.
My aunt went on to say, that the family had lost all contact with our family and as my father was posted around the country, we never returned to that area again.
Wendy continued to ask questions and was surprised to hear that she was the fourth youngest child in the family and that she had two brothers and a sister. Although my aunty had no idea where we lived, whether or not any of us were still alive, she did tell Wendy my name telling her the year when I was born and that I too entered the military like my father. That was all she knew.
When Wendy came off the phone she was emotionally drained with so much information coming her way but she now had renewed hope. She logged on to the internet and put in my name. A web site came up with my name on it and so she looked through it. It happened to be my friend’s website which had a brief piece about my life, and which contained my date of birth, place of birth along with the fact that I had been in the armed forces, as had my father. Thus she contacted my friend to ask for my details who then forwarded on the email request to me.
When I did not ring her right away, she continued to search the internet and eventually came across my own web site which just happens to have my full curriculum vitae on it which shows my full name, date of birth, place of birth and shows that I was in the military. On the web site I also have a resume of my autobiography which clearly showed my parents name so she realised that she had found one of her brothers. And of course, the web site gave out my email address which is how she came to email me direct.
I told Wendy about my memories of 1953. Of being told she had died, of my mother pointing out a small stone in the church cemetery, how I had always talked to her when I went to and from choir practice placing a kiss on the top of the small stone and how I found out many years later that she had in fact not died but had been given up for adoption.
During the time I was with her, we drove over to the house where we lived and she was born in, just to reminisce. Then we visited my aunt who I had not seen for over 60 years and Wendy and I were able to hear more of the story.
My aunt told us that when he arrived home earlier that day, before I had got home from school and found him in the kitchen, he gave my mother an ultimatum: “Either you agree to having the baby adopted and we carry on with our lives, or, if you do not agree, then you will never see me or our three children again.”
One can hardly believe the immense pressure my mother must have been under to agree to his ultimatum. Knowing my mother as I do, it is and always will be my belief, that she lived her life (pre-dementia years) feeling guilty, ashamed and annoyed that she was not strong enough to stand up to my father’s ultimatum.
Much water has flowed under the proverbial river of life since that momentous day in our family lives and there is little point in trying to do anything about it especially with my mother’s condition. My father will have had to live with the knowledge of his ultimatum all his life and perhaps it was only on his death bed that he realised the pain and suffering he caused by making my mother agree to giving her baby away. I was able to tell Wendy a little about her father the man we knew as uncle Jim but wished I had known his surname as this would have helped her search for him if she had wanted to.
For my part, I am very happy that I have my baby sister back and one day, perhaps, perhaps not, my mother may be in strong emotional state to know about her daughter who she was made to give up for adoption over sixty years ago, but I doubt it given her aging years and her dementia.
For her part, my little sister is happy with her big brother and holds no grudge against our mother for her decision. 1953 was not the time for married women to give birth to a child when their husband was clearly not around to be the father and given my father’s religious beliefs, it was also not the time when a husband would willingly bring up a child that everyone would know is not his.
Such are the times we lived in!
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