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Laurence Peat and Wendy
Fifty-five-year old divorced father of one, Laurence is searching for his mother who gave him up for adoption in 1957. In the hope of finding his mother and laying to rest the sense of rejection he has felt in his life, Laurence approached Long Lost Family.
Laurence tells LLF that he grew up in the town of Chesterfield as an only child and was unaware that he was adopted until the age of seven. Laurence, who still lives in the house he was brought up in, remembers vividly the day his parents called him into the kitchen to tell him this news.
Although the news came as a shock, Laurence tells LLF that he never spoke to them about the circumstances of his adoption, not wanting to cause his parents any distress.
He says: “I wouldn’t have wanted to see the look on my mum’s face. I don’t like people being upset and I don’t think I could have coped with that.”
Carrying the pain and fear of rejection with him throughout his life and after the breakdown of several long term relationships, Laurence tells LLF that he feels it is time he faces up to his past.
He says: “Once I understand why she gave me up then I can get on with my life and be closer to people. You know, show my feelings.”
Laurence took the first tentative steps on his journey by applying to Derbyshire County Council for his adoption records. Amongst the papers he discovered his mother’s name and that she was from Glasgow. But, with no date of birth, he was at a loss as to where to turn next.
Through the databases of records available, Long Lost Family were able to trace Laurence’s mother, sadly discovering that she died in 1999. However, the programme was also able to trace Laurence’s sister, Wendy.
Nicky goes to meet Wendy and finds a warm, friendly woman who had absolutely no idea of her brother’s existence. Shocked to discover that her mum had kept such a profound secret all her life, Wendy felt sad that she wasn’t able to speak about it. After being contacted, Wendy remembered a photograph she found in her mother’s belongings of a small child that could only have been a few months old. Having always wondered who the child in the photo was, Wendy brings it with her to show Nicky.
When Davina returns to see Laurence he is naturally saddened that his mother had passed away, though delighted with the prospect of meeting his sister Wendy. Davina shows Laurence the photograph and by comparing it to a photograph he has of himself as a baby it is clear the precious photograph that his mother kept all her life is in fact of her first born child, Laurence.
Long Long Family is with Laurence and Wendy when they meet for the first time.
Denise and Susan
Sixty-three-year-old widow Denise gave birth to her daughter when she was just sixteen years old and, despite her family’s vocal opposition, brought her home and cared for her for three hard months. But, with no financial or emotional support, Denise struggled to care for her infant and, in the end, felt she had no choice but to give the baby she loved up for adoption.
Denise has missed her daughter ever since.
Denise tells Long Lost Family that she grew up on the outskirts of Leeds in a time of economic hardship. She had a close-knit family and was particularly close to her father. When she was just fifteen her world fell apart when she came home to discover her father had suddenly died. Denise was heartbroken and reacted by seeking comfort and distraction in her social life. She looked older than her fifteen years and could easily drink in pubs without being questioned about her age.
She says: “I just started partying and going out. My mum wasn’t bothered. Leaving all the troubles behind, the house behind. Just looking for love – looking for love that I’d lost.”
It was during this time that Denise struck up a relationship with a young man, and became pregnant. Unable to cope, she denied to herself what was happening.
She tells the programme: “I just ignored it. I knew something was wrong, but I thought it just might go away.”
Eventually, her mum discovered the pregnancy and, aged 16, Denise gave birth to her daughter. She named her Debbie. Her mother, and her mother’s new boyfriend Sid, had been adamant that she should give the baby up for adoption, but when Denise held her daughter in her arms she felt a love so strong she did not want to give her up.
She says: “As young as I was, the feelings and the emotions, the hormones, I thought, ‘I’d die for this child. I’d die for her and I’d fight anybody that would try to take her from me.’”
Despite all the resistance and opposition Denise persuaded her mother and Sid to allow her to bring her baby home, though Denise knew she would be very much on her own.
She struggled desperately to provide for her daughter.
She adds: “She slept in a drawer perched between two chairs. I think she only had half a dozen nappies, so I was forever doing nappies in buckets with solution. I was so alone. So alone.”
When Debbie was about three months old Denise woke one morning and decided that adoption was her only choice. She believed the daughter she loved would have no future if she remained with her. It was a terrifically hard decision to make, but Denise believes it was the right decision.
She says: “As much as I loved her, I knew that it was no life for her or me.”
Denise never forgot Debbie, and the love she had felt for her. For many years she has wanted to find her and repair the relationship that had been brutally cut short.
After Denise approached Long Lost Family a specialist social worker and intermediary found her daughter, now called Susan, living in Northamptonshire.
When Nicky goes to meet Susan he discovers that, astonishingly, she was only told she had been adopted at the age of 21. All she knew was that her birth mother had been 16 years old when she’d given birth. She tells Nicky that, after this discovery, she had tried to find her birth mother, but, when she examined the records, the file relating to the month of her birth was missing. She took this as a sign that searching for her wasn’t the right thing to do.
Since she found out that her birth mother was searching for her, Susan wondered what had happened in the few months following her birth and prior to her adoption. When Nicky tells her about Denise’s attempts to keep her, she is stunned and incredibly moved.
Davina travels to Spain, where Denise now lives, to tell her that her daughter has been found. Denise admits how anxious she feels that her daughter will reject her and is totally overwhelmed when Davina tells her that Susan would love to meet her.
Susan travels back to her birthplace, Leeds, to meet Denise for the first time in nearly 50 years.