Paralympian Ellie Simmonds reveals adoption and tracks down birth mother

Ellie Simmonds reveals she was adopted when she was just two weeks old. Credit: ITV

Paralympian Ellie Simmonds has revealed she was adopted at two weeks old and says her dwarfism is a key reason.

The Walsall-born swimmer said being given up at birth had never really affected her until now because she was so focused on her swimming career.

The gold medal-winning athlete revealed she had been able to track down her birth mother and ask her directly what lay behind that decision all those years ago.

Simmonds explores the relationship between disability and adoption in a brand new ITV1 documentary titled Ellie Simmonds: Finding My Secret Family.

Speaking ahead of its release, Simmonds said the documentary has helped her find the answers of who she is.

'It never made me feel rejected'

Ellie Simmonds with her Gold medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games for the Women's 200m Individual Medley Credit: PA

The multiple gold-medallist said she began by looking through photographs and documents that her adoptive parents, Steve and Val Simmonds, kept for her.

She said: "Until now, it’s never emotionally affected me, it never made me feel rejected or ask why do my birth parents not want me.

"I’ve been so focused on the future and never thought about it.

"One of the reasons for being given up for adoption is because of dwarfism and maybe it can be a factor of why my personality is like it is now, because of that rejection at the start.

"Even if you do have a loving family being rejected straight away, like as soon as you were born.”

The documentary explores both social and institutional sides of the adoption process, while asking if a stigma around having disabled children still exists.

Ellie said: "I think it’s really helped that finding out who I am, looking at someone who birthed me, the nature that I’m from and the questions I had to ask her and she answered them it makes you a bit more whole.

"Although I have no idea how all this will play out, I’m glad I’ve gone through this process - questions I’ve carried for years have been answered."

After finding her birth mother, the 28-year-old began to write letters to her before finally meeting her in person, according to The Mirror.

'I’ve suffered with guilt and self-hatred,' says Ellie's birth mother.

One response she received read: "Your father and I separated before I realised I was expecting you. Unfortunately it was very sad and traumatic in my life and I struggled with my mental health.

"I’ve suffered with guilt and self-hatred for not being strong enough to cope.

"I cannot express the happiness I feel to know your parents and siblings have provided you with such a loving environment, that you’re so happy. You’ve achieved so much.”

Ellie Simmonds took part in Strictly Come Dancing in 2022 with dance partner Nikita Kuzmin. Credit: PA

The pair finally met in person at a hotel and spent five hours getting to know each other.

Simmonds, who has decided to protect her birth mother's identity, said: "It was amazing. I didn’t realise the time was passing by.

"We were howling with laughter, we’ve got the same sense of humour. I kept looking at her and thinking, ‘Wow that’s my mum’.

"I felt like her face was just like mine. What touched my heart was she said she thinks about me every day, and she still sees me as her daughter.

"It’s helped with finding out who I am, looking at someone who birthed me, the nature I’m from, it makes you a bit more whole."

"I’m proud of my life and I love my family and maybe, perhaps, that family just got bigger," she added.

The hour-long documentary will be available to watch on ITV1 at 9pm on Thursday, 6 July.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…