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Long Lost Family

  • Episode: 

    5 of 6

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Wed 01 Jul 2015
  • TX Confirmed: 

    Yes
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 27 2015 : Sat 27 Jun - Fri 03 Jul
  • Channel: 

    ITV
The information contained herein is strictly embargoed from all press, online and social media use, non-commercial publication, or syndication until Tuesday 23 June 2015.
 
This Episode of Long Lost Family features two stories of sisters kept, while their brothers were given up for adoption: a family split apart by the decision to give up a baby boy over 50 years ago, and a sister searching for the brother who was kept a secret from her as a child.
 
 
Elizabeth Wells and her daughter Janice searching together for Paul Meddelton
 
We follow a mother and daughter united by their search for the man missing from both their lives.
 
Elizabeth and her daughter Janice live together in a village in Somerset.  Fifty-five years ago Elizabeth had to make the agonising decision to keep Janice whilst giving up her son, Janice’s brother, for adoption.
 
“I’ve missed him from the day I agreed to go through with it and I regret it, I sincerely regret it” says Elizabeth.
 
Elizabeth grew up in Somerset and, at the age of sixteen, began dating her first boyfriend. But he was married. He promised he would eventually divorce and marry her, but before he could keep that promise, Elizabeth fell pregnant and gave birth to Janice. Believing they would make it work, Elizabeth continued to see her boyfriend and her parents helped her look after Janice. Then, when Janice was just seven months old, Elizabeth fell pregnant again.
 
“He was quite excited believe it or not and I thought we would live happily together like a family unit.”
 
But by the time Elizabeth gave birth to their second child, a son whom she named Brian, the babies’ father had decided to remain with his wife and cut off all ties with Elizabeth. 
 
At a time when there were limited state benefits, Elizabeth had to go out to work to support herself and although her parents agreed to look after Janice, they were unable to take on two babies. Elizabeth feels that she never had the option of keeping both her children. Reluctantly she gave up Brian for adoption and never saw him again.
 
“I felt part of me was dead,” she says.
 
Elizabeth later married and rebuilt her life with her daughter Janice.
 
“I have a guilt that I got to stay with mum but my brother didn’t” says Janice.
 
Elizabeth and Janice share the need to find Brian and to let him know that he was loved. They have searched for more than three decades, but they don’t know his new adopted name so have had no success.
 
With the help of a specialist intermediary Long Lost Family tracks down Brian, now called Paul, living in Kent. Nicky Campbell travels there to meet Paul and give him the news that his mother and his sister are searching for him.  Paul’s adoptive parents have passed away, and Paul had assumed that his birth mother had likely died as well.
 
Paul says “One day your life is just trundling along and then this tsunami comes and washes everything you’ve known away and the game has changed.”
 
Paul had already learned ten years ago that he had an older sister and although he wanted to find her he had felt he should not do this while his adoptive parents were alive.  In the photo of his sister that Nicky shows him, Paul’s struck by how alike they look.
 
Reading a letter from his mother Elizabeth, Paul takes in her message that he was wanted. He says he feels there’s nothing to forgive.  
 
“I’d imagine I’ll call her mum which is really strange but at the end of the day she is my mum so why would I not call her that.”
 
Davina McCall heads to Somerset to tell Elizabeth and Janice that Brian, now Paul, has been found. They shed tears of joy as they read that he had a wonderful childhood, loving parents and is looking forward to meeting them.  Elizabeth is thrilled to hear that he wants to call her “mum.”
 
Soon afterwards, Paul travels to Plymouth, where he was born, to meet his mother and his sister. The three experience instant familial recognition and a natural connection.  
 
Elizabeth says “I feel the heaviness from my heart is going.”
 
 
Tracey Collins searching for her brother Christian Hilton
 
We follow a woman desperate to find the brother missing from her family.
 
Tracey Collins lives in a village near Peterborough, where she was born in 1977 and grew up an only child with her parents Pamela and Thomas Dickson. Tracey was close to her parents, but felt a great loneliness. 
 
“I just remember saying constantly to mum and dad I wish I wasn’t the only child”
 
 When she was 17 her mother told her that in fact she had an older brother, Thomas, who they gave up for adoption before Tracey was born. Tracey’s parents had meant for this to remain a secret, and the revelation prompted countless questions from Tracey.  But Tracey’s mother asked her to stifle her questions as they were too upsetting.  
 
Turning to her father, Tracey found him relieved to confide in her about the hardest thing he’d ever had to do. Tracey’s father explained to her that he and her mother were unable to keep Thomas at the time: they were unmarried, living in one room, and had no work.
 
Just months after first talking about her brother with her father, Tracey’s father suffered a stroke. From his hospital bed he told her that he knew where the family who raised her brother lived.  
 
He said “promise me you won’t tell your mum, but we’re going to find your brother.”
 
Tragically, that night Tracey’s father suffered a second stroke and died. She’d lost her father and, with him, her best chance of finding her brother.
 
Tracey’s mother then died in 2008.  Since then, Tracey and her husband Mick have been trying to find her brother. All Tracey had to go on was that her parents called him Thomas, and that he was born on the 17th of January 1974.  Every year Tracey puts flowers out in honour of his birthday. It was painful for her to see his fortieth pass without having found him.
 
Long Lost Family turns to a specialist intermediary, legally allowed to access adoption records, to find Thomas. He is now called Christian, and grew up as an only child with his adoptive parents. Nicky goes to meet Christian in Lincolnshire where he lives with his adoptive parents, having suffered from nervous exhaustion some years ago.
 
Nicky learns that Christian has always known that he was adopted.  For him, the revelation has been that he has a sister. Having recovered from stress-related illness, this news couldn’t come at a better time for Christian.  He’s imagining a future in which he and Tracey will know one another as brother and sister.
 
“I certainly don’t feel as alone in the universe any more.”
 
Davina McCall goes to see Tracey at her home near Peterborough to tell her that the brother she has always wanted in her life has been found. Davina tells Tracey of Christian’s illness, that he’s happy now and that meeting his sister could be healing for him. Tracey reads what her brother has written to her of learning that he has a full sibling:
 
“’It has thrown the brightest light into 40 years of relative darkness.’”
 
Then, after her nearly forty years as an only child, Tracey meets her brother for the first time. She tells him that she’s been longing to meet him since she was 17. She shows Christian a picture of their parents, and tells him that they had him adopted because they loved him. Christian allays her worries, telling her of his upbringing with loving parents. 
 
“This is…for the rest of my life.  I’ve got a sister.”
 
“I can see so much of my mum in him.  I’ve got family.  I’ve got a brother.”