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Mike’s story

Mike was born in Dundee in 1945, just after the war. He was adopted and raised by loving parents and enjoyed a wonderful childhood in a picturesque village in the Highland country side. . As life progressed, Mike often wondered about his birth mother and was curious about the circumstances may have been that led to his adoption.  Life was good, with a loving wife and family and a fulfilling career, there was little time to be curious…..

In April 2017, Mike contacted Birthlink. He explained that his wonderful wife Rose had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2015. Mike had slowed down the pace of work to spend quality time with the people he loved. This focus had allowed him to reflect on his need to find out about his birth mother and her story which was also his story. With time running out, Mike knew that it was important to have Rose by his side on this journey of discovery….He felt time was of the essence and Birthlink were able to support them moving forward.

Firstly Mike bought a copy of his original birth certificate; he was thrilled to discover a very Scottish birth name. We then accessed Mike’s court process papers from the National Records of Scotland. Within these documents, Mike learnt that his birth mother Olivia, she came from a very small island in the North of Scotland Mike reflected on how challenging life may have been for her to be pregnant and unmarried in a very small community. Perhaps this was why he had been born in Dundee?

Mike needed to know more. Our search team was then able to search public records to find out what had happened to Olivia since Mike’s birth in 1945. Mike learnt that Olivia had stayed on the Island; she had gone on to marry and have three more children, twin daughters and a son (all of whom were living in the same island community). There was no death registered in Olivia’s name which meant that she may still be living life on the island in her 90’s. Mike shared that this news was “life changing”, not only did he have siblings but his birth mother was still alive. He took some time to process all that had been discovered. He reflected on the fact that he felt scared and apprehensive about making an approach to Olivia and the family, there were so many ifs and maybes. Mike worried that the family may know nothing about him. What impact could this have on Olivia?….However, time was not on his side. Mike and Rose had planned a trip up to the island in August and he was keen to explore all options of finding his birth family prior to his visit. We were able to find addresses for Olivia and his sisters and the decision was made to write out.

A few days after our letter was sent  Birthlink received a call from Mike’s sister Grace. She was delighted that he had made contact. She shared that she and her twin, Lucy had found out about Mike when they were teenagers (their friend had been told by an older lady in the community about the baby….). They asked Olivia at the time if it were true, she had confirmed that it was  true but they never talked any more about “the baby”. Grace, Lucy and Greg had always wanted to find Mike but were reluctant to raise this with Olivia for fear of upsetting her. Grace explained that Olivia, aged 94 years had been living independently until a few months ago when, for health reasons, she moved in with Grace and her family. Things moved swiftly after this first contact. Information was shared at a pace with emails pinging between Mike and his siblings on a daily basis. Mike was over the moon to make this connection with the family and hoped that he may be able to meet with them and Olivia during his trip which was only weeks away.

The family were very mindful that Olivia  may feel overwhelmed by news of Mike and planned how  best to support her. Receiving the news of Mike’s contact was very emotional for Olivia, however, after all these years she was able to share her story with her family; to reflect on the pain and loss she had experienced as a young woman who had no real choice in 1945…..she told them about his father Jim, a soldier billeted locally; they had planned to marry; she had travelled to Wales to meet his family and had bought a wedding gown in preparation. Jim was posted on D day and never heard of again, missing in action……Olivia was left alone with her plans for the future in tatters and a baby on the way. Olivia’s voice was heard at long last and with the support of  her friends and family she seemed to thrive on the sense of freedom to talk openly about her past.

When Olivia  learned about Mike and Rose’s trip, she did not hesitate in agreeing to meet with them. After all those years, she was absolutely amazed and delighted at the prospect of meeting her son; “this is the day that I thought I would never see….”

With Rose by his side,  Mike and Olivia met….Mike described their time together as “a momentous few days”, “surpassed our wildest hopes, a new era begins….” Grace shared that “Mam never wants to let him go”, “it felt so special and just right”. Grace hoped that Olivia would find the strength to let go of the past and find peace in the days and months to follow. “Our family is now complete”.

After meeting in August 2017, the family connections remain strong. Very sadly, Olivia died in December 2017 and Rose died in March 2018. With love comes loss……

Mike has travelled to the Island again, he has forged warm, loving relationships with all his siblings and extended family members who are all very much a part of his life; “it just feels right”.

Mike was keen to share his story to promote the message that “it’s never too late”.