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Mandy & Kelly’s Story

Kelly had grown up knowing that she had a cousin who was a year older than her who had been adopted as a baby. The baby was named Mandy and over the years Kelly always wondered where she was and what she was doing. Would they have been close if they had grown up together?  Kelly had a treasured photograph of Mandy as a baby that she often looked at and hoped that one day they would meet.

Kelly’s Mum Pat and Mandy’s Mum Joyce were twin sisters, the youngest of 7 siblings. Kelly talked about her family and shared details of the family’s medical history. Six of the sibling group have died young from cancer and/or lived with the impact of serious mental health issues. Tragically, Mandy’s Mum Joyce was diagnosed with schizophrenia and committed suicide aged just 32 years old. Kelly expressed needing to find Mandy, not only to alert her to medical concerns but also as a connection; to family.

Kelly contacted Birthlink in April 2015 and registered on the Adoption Contact Register for Scotland. Sadly there was no matching registration for Mandy, but the Scottish Adoption Registry flagged up the local authority that held the record of Mandy’s adoption. Birthlink contacted the local authority and a Non-Disclosure Agreement was signed by Birthlink, the local authority representative and Kelly. Birthlink were given identifying information about Mandy which enabled a search to be conducted in an attempt to find her.

The search team found that Mandy was married with a son. Birthlink contacted Mandy and shared news of her cousin and her efforts to find her. Mandy shared that she had wonderful parents and had been raised in a loving home.  After taking some time to think and reflect, Mandy decided to have some contact with Kelly. She knew nothing about her birth family and was a little curious. Mandy and Kelly were supported to exchange letters using Birthlink’s Mediation Service. They took time to get to know one another over a period of months, sharing regular letters and photographs, building strong foundations to their relationship. Both were supported to share and receive very difficult information about Joyce.  Mandy was sad to hear of her mother’s death but has been able to get to know a bit about Joyce through Kelly’s memories, stories and photographs.

Over the last year, the cousins have become inseparable. They live very close to one another, only 10 miles apart and meet regularly. Connections have been made with one another but also within the wider family network. The cousin’s children are now very close and Kelly has met Mandy’s Mum and Dad. Mandy expressed that “it feels like I have known her for years! We yap for hours and nobody else would get a word in if they tried. Things are going great. Kelly and I are forming a lovely bond and we are just so similar”.  Finding one another has been very special; Mandy said: “I feel blessed to have this opportunity.” Kelly summarised, “I’m so glad I made the decision to look for her…”