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Long Lost Family

  • Episode: 

    4 of 6

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Wed 24 Jun 2015
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 26 2015 : Sat 20 Jun - Fri 26 Jun
  • Channel: 

The information contained herein is strictly embargoed from all press, online and social media use, non-commercial publication, or syndication until Tuesday 16 June 2015.
This week on Long Lost Family two stories of lives overshadowed by absence…
Christine Chesham searching for her sister Pamela Moore
We follow the search of one woman desperately searching for her sister in the hope of discovering the truth behind a family tragedy.
Fifty six year old divorcee Christine Chesham lives in Stockport.  Adopted as a baby, she was raised in an affluent suburb of Liverpool during the 1960s. Christine’s childhood was both happy and secure and she recalls that neither she, nor her adoptive brother, wanted for anything. 
Although she had always known she was adopted, it was when she was 15 that Christine first found out anything about her background. She was watching a news report with her family when her adoptive mother revealed that the street featured on the television was where Christine’s birth mother came from.  It was in Toxteth, a largely working class district of Liverpool, only a few miles down the road but a world away from the leafy suburbs where Christine was being brought up. The news report prompted Christine to ask more questions about her birth mother and she was told that her mother had been a married woman and that Christine was the product of an affair.
“I can remember thinking that she might not have wanted to give me away - that there was another woman out there who loved me,” she says.
As she grew older, Christine decided she wanted to find her birth mother and applied for her birth certificate. This was a powerful moment for Christine, seeing her mother’s name in black and white – Marion Joan Shaw, formerly Murphy. But unable to get any further on her own, in 2005 Christine hired a private investigator who came back with some tragic news - that Marion had died in 1990, ten years before Christine had even started looking.  Christine was devastated. “It took the feet out from underneath me,” she says.
But it wasn’t just the fact that her mother had died that Christine had to come to terms with, the circumstances of her mother’s death were disturbing and there was a coroner’s report into the incident. Reading this, Christine discovered that her mother had fallen down the stairs in an accident. It also revealed that Marion was an alcoholic, who had been drinking so much that she had put her life at risk. Christine began to question what might have driven her mother to drink so much. 
“Perhaps she had started down that road because she was grieving in some way for me,” Christine says.
But the report also gave Christine some hope - one of the witnesses who had made a statement, a Pamela Shaw, was none other than Marion’s daughter from her marriage and therefore Christine’s older half-sister. 
“She’s my sister… it was difficult to grieve for the one and celebrate the other”
Christine is desperate to find Pamela, not only to finally meet her sister, but to find out more about their mother. Although she fears her sister may blame her for what happened to their mother, Christine needs to know the answers to her questions – good or bad - and finally understand the tragedy of her mother’s situation.
Long Lost Family found Pamela still living in Toxteth, Liverpool. Now widowed, she has 2 children and 5 grandchildren.  
Nicky visits Pamela at home to discover more about her mother’s life and what she knows about her sister. Pamela is over the moon that Christine has come to find her and that Christine had “that love and that nurturing” from her adoptive family. Pamela reveals to Nicky that her childhood was not as happy as the upbringing Christine experienced. She didn’t grow up with her parents because their relationship broke apart following her mother’s affair and she spent her childhood in and out of foster care.  
It was only aged 21 that Pamela found out about Christine when she met up with her mother again. Marion showed her a picture of a baby and an aunt told Pamela the story of her sister.  Pamela has cherished the photo that she believes is Christine as a baby. “I wish I had gone with her”, she says.
Davina travels to meet Christine and tell her that her sister has been found. Christine is extremely excited but also sad to hear what a difficult time Pamela had. She feels that she was perhaps the lucky one of the pair of them to have been adopted away from the difficult circumstances that Pamela lived through. 
Pamela and Christine meet at a hotel in Liverpool, not far from where they both grew up. In an emotional reunion they finally put to rest all of the questions and worries that have haunted them over the years. 
Vicki Haskell searching for her birth mother, Ann Meisel
Fifty-three year old retired child therapist Vicki Haskell is desperate to find the one person in the world who she knows she’s related to. 
Happily married to husband Curly for 15 years, Vicki has 2 stepchildren and 3 step grandchildren. However, having been given up for adoption as a baby and without any children of her own, Vicki has never known anyone who is a blood relative.
“There’s nobody in the past, nobody in the future – just me,” she says.
Vicki had a happy childhood and grew up with adoptive parents Ron and Eileen Anderson. Two years after Vicki’s adoption, Ron and Eileen had a son of their own. 
Growing up, Vicki noticed differences between herself and her adoptive family. Being a deeply emotional person she felt that her adoptive family, although devoted, did not share those aspects of her nature. As a result, Vicki struggled to feel a sense of connection. 
So when she was 18 years old Vicki began to search for clues about her background. She came across her adoption file in her father’s desk, containing the first information she had ever read about her birth mother. 
“She is interested in classical music, her height is 5ft 6”, normal weight about 8.5 stone and she is fair with blue eye”’.
For the first time in her life, Vicki, who sings in a choir, could see aspects of herself in another human being. Her birth mother clearly shared both looks and interests with her. 
The paperwork also gave an insight into what her mother had been through in giving her up. 
“She realises that giving the child up is going to be a big sacrifice for her but she’s willing to do this for the child’s sake. I have pointed out to her that this means putting the child right out of her life forever...”
Moved by the documents, Vicki was determined to find her birth mother, but they also revealed that the search for her was not going to be easy, as she was from South Africa. At the time, South Africa was in the midst of the apartheid regime and politically isolated. Vicki knew it would be almost impossible to find out any more information about where her birth mother was, but she remained desperate to meet the woman who she hoped she would feel a connection to.
When Long Lost Family took up the search Vicki had been searching for her birth mother for over 30 years, to no avail. Finally we tracked down Vicki’s mother, Ann Meisel, living just outside Johannesburg, in South Africa. 
Travelling to the other side of the world, Nicky meets Ann who is overwhelmed with tears from the very outset. Ann expresses that she never dared to believe that one day Vicki might seek her out. 
“I was made to promise I would never say anything and I would never contact her or make any effort to find the parents or her at all,” she says.
Ann tells Nicky that she fell pregnant during a holiday romance and when her parents pushed for her to have the baby adopted, she came to England in the hope of giving her baby a better life.
“She was born and then she was gone. I never fed her, I never held her and that was part of the agreement,” she explains.
When Nicky shows Ann a photograph of Vicki, it is the first time that she has ever set eyes on her daughter. Ann cannot wait to meet Vicki and says that she would like Vicki to come to South Africa to meet the rest of her family, who have only just found out about their long lost relative and are dying to welcome her into the family. 
When Davina meets Vicki to tell her the news that her birth mother has been found, Vicki is overcome with emotion and delighted. “I have family,” she says.
Vicki then travels to South Africa to finally meet her mother, her half-brother, her aunt and uncle and cousins. Surrounded by her new family she says:
“I do feel like a different person. That I belong.”