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Richard Cue and Patricia Walker
Richard is a 57-year-old family man who lives with his wife, Toni, and their ten-year-old daughter Sid, in Surrey. He is searching for his birth mother to thank her for the sacrifice she made in parting with him.
Richard says: “To be able to say ‘look you did good’, it was the right thing to do at the right time. I really am humbly grateful.”
Richard was adopted by Florence and William Cue in 1957. The adoption came about after the couple had lost two young children of their own, Ian and Jacqueline. Richard recounts the monthly family pilgrimages he made as a child to the cemetery to visit the children’s grave and the pain it must have caused his parents to lose two children.
He says: “Their adopting me was a part of that healing process because my dad felt it was something positive for my mum to focus on.”
Richard’s childhood was an extremely happy one. Although his adoptive family were not wealthy, he recalls the wealth of affection and love between them. But as he grew older, Richard became preoccupied with thoughts of the woman whose sacrifice made this happy life possible.
He says: “Nobody can tell me that a mother can give birth to a child and whether they had to give it up or not doesn’t have a mother child bond, that little hole that the adoption left, that isn’t something that goes away. You always want the answers.”
After he lost his adoptive mother in 1997, Richard’s desire to find out of the truth about his own adoption, and get the answers he so craved gained a new importance. He made an unexpected discovery when he accessed his adoption records, which cited the name of Mrs Lambert, as an instrumental figure in arranging his adoption. This was a shock to Richard because this was a name he knew. Mrs Lambert was his own ‘Aunt Lil’, a relative by marriage to his adoptive mother and a figure he saw regularly growing up.
The records explained that Aunt Lil had acted as a go-between for Richards’s birth mother and his adoptive mother.
Richard can’t help but wonder about his birth mother and how to find her, but despite the family connection he has been searching for nearly a decade without success. He fears that she may be haunted with ghosts of the past and is desperate for the opportunity to meet her and let her know how grateful he is for what she did
He says: “She went through a lot to have me only to give me up, that will have had an effect on her which would have been equally as devastating as my adoptive mother losing children.”
Long Lost Family took on the search, and was able to track down Richard’s mother - Patricia Howard, now Walker to West Sussex
Now retired and living with her husband Jim, Patricia (Pat) was delighted to hear that Richard was looking for her and agreed to meet with Nicky. When Nicky arrives, Pat reveals that she has also been searching for Richard, but held back through fear of what impact it might have on his life.
Pat explains to Nicky that she tried to keep Richard and raise him on her own. She had him with her for six months until she simply had no other options. She had no family support and was practically starving. Her situation was desperate and it was then her aunt stepped in and suggested Pat have Richard adopted. Wanting a better life for her baby, she agreed to the adoption to Florence and William.
Pat says: “I used to think to myself, will their love be as strong as mine, you don’t know.”
Pat shows Nicky the photographs she was sent by her aunt of Richard as he grew up. Tragically, however, her connection to her son was to be severed when her aunt developed dementia four years later.
After not having seen an image of her boy for over 50 years, Pat is delighted when Nicky hands her a picture of Richard today. She is overcome with pride:
She says: “What a lovely young man…he’s gorgeous…what a lovely boy…I’m so proud!”
Davina travels to see Richard to tell him that he will finally have the opportunity to thank his birth mother for her sacrifice and also have the opportunity to provide him with the answers he has so longed for.
Richard is brought to tears at the news his mother has been found and Davina reveals the circumstances of his adoption and the difficulties his birth mother went through in a desperate attempt to keep him with her. When Richard reads the opening lines of the letter from Pat, years of pent up emotion come to the surface and Richard is utterly overwhelmed. After reading the letter from his birth mother, Richard cannot wait to meet her and he is soon able to share his happy news to his wife, Toni and daughter Sid.
Just two days after finding out his birth mother has been found, Richard travels to West Sussex to be reunited with his mother.
After an anxious wait, the pair meet in a hotel in Midhurst. Richard is finally able to thank Pat and explain to her what an incredible gift she gave his mum and dad, and although her it was a great loss to her it gave him a future.
Pat says: “I feel no regrets at all now, he’s had a good life and I’m proud of what he has turned out to be.”
Tania Bartlett and Edward Kazem
Tania Bartlett is a 52-year-old mother of one whose happy life has been overshadowed by the need to find her father, who vanished more than 30 years ago.
Growing up Tania had no contact with her father, Ahmad Kazem - an Iranian student who had met her mother Julie in Folkestone. Her only connection to him was her striking black hair and dark eyes which were in stark contrast to her blond mother.
Tania’s parents met in Folkestone in 1961 when Ahmad was in the UK studying English. The couple fell in love and began planning a future together. By the time Tania was born, Ahmad was living in America setting up their new lives, but after Tania’s birth, Julie felt unable to leave England and the relationship ended.
It wasn’t until Tania was fifteen that she finally met her father for the first time. She recalls being at home doing the washing up when there was a knock at the door. When she answered she knew immediately that the man standing on her doorstep was her father.
Tania says: “It kind of turned my world upside down…I never ever expected my dad to be in my life ever.”
Over the next five years Ahmad, now called Edward, maintained regular contact with Tania – showering her with love and affection. Edward led a busy lifestyle and Tania remembers that he would contact her from different countries across the world, from USA to Europe to Iran.
Edward was often in and out of Iran during this period, but it was a dangerous time to be in the country for anyone with links to the west. In 1979 a revolution had ousted the country’s leader and installed a government that was hostile to western influence. Violent demonstrations and riots had become commonplace.
In April 1981 Tania received what would be her final letter from her father, asking her to write to him in Tehran. She wrote, but the letter was sent back unopened. This was the last Tania heard from her father and since that day she has been left in limbo not knowing what became of him or whether he even survived the dangers of Iran.
When Long Lost Family took on the search the trail led us to USA and an Edward Kazem living in Virginia on the East Coast. We contacted him and he confirmed that he was the man we had been searching for.
Nicky travels to Virginia to hear Edward’s story. He tells Nicky about visiting Tania for the first time when she was a teenager. This visit was an attempt to apologise and move on and be a part of her life. Nicky questions why, after returning to be a part of her life, did all contact cease after that last letter in 1981.
Cautiously, Edward explains that the situation was taken out of his hands when he was employed by the United States government and, because of the nature of his work, he was not allowed to contact anybody, including his own daughter.
Edwards says: “I never stopped loving her, thinking about her… I really prayed I just want to see Tania before I die.”
Nicky tells Edward how much Tania has longed to see him and produces a photo of Tania, which moves Edward to tears as he recognises his daughter.
When Davina tells Tania that her father has been found, Tania can, for the first time, know the truth of what happened all those years ago when he disappeared from her life. She is thrilled and excited that she will see him again.
Edward makes the journey across the Atlantic to London to reunite with his daughter. They arrange to meet at a hotel in Mayfair, where they last met in person. Shaking with excitement Tania sets eyes on her father after over thirty years and they embrace, overcome with joy to finally be together again. For Edward it is an opportunity he never thought would happen to explain the circumstances which kept them apart.
Edward says: “I’m reunited with my daughter after all these year. I feel great, I’ve never felt this good, so help me I’ve always wanted to explain to her because of circumstances we were apart – that weight is lifted.”
Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell present a brand new series of the Bafta award winning series Long Lost Family, which traces and reunites families who have been apart for most of their lives.
Across eight episodes, viewers are taken on a moving journey, from the moment relatives reveal how they lost contact with a family member, to being told their loved one has been traced, to their eventual reunion.
Series four features mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers searching for loved ones who they are desperate to find. The programme travels as far as South Africa and Australia and with the help of Nicky and Davina, families are guided through the heart-rending reunion process.
Davina said: “Long Lost Family is unlike anything else I've ever been involved in - it's emotional, it's heart-warming and it's life changing for the people we reunite. It's such a huge honour to be a part of their stories and ultimately to help them find loved ones.”
In each programme, Long Lost Family explores the background and social context of each family’s estrangement and why it occurred. Many of the people in the series were adopted or gave children up for adoption when they were younger and Nicky Campbell has personal experience of this. He was adopted as a child, before searching for and being reunited with his birth mother and father as an adult. Nicky is now a patron of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering.
Nicky said: “The previous series have been compelling and emotional and unmissable but I think in this series we have some of the most extraordinary stories that we’ve ever told, from some of the most amazing people.”
During production of Long Lost Family, producers Wall to Wall worked closely with adoption expert Ariel Bruce, a leading independent social worker who specialises in tracing people. The protocol devised and worked to throughout the making of Long Lost Family complies with current adoption legislation and was modelled on the protocols and best practice that leading Ofsted-inspected adoption support agencies work to when searching for, contacting, reuniting and supporting adopted people and birth relatives.