For the purpose of simplicity I think a glossary might be useful so make a mental note of the following before reading on…I will add to this as needed…
BM Birthmother , VB BM’s Maiden initials, Earth Angel Much loved Buffer/ Gatekeeper
PD Man on the ground (you will understand later) VS Birthmother married name
MB Full Biological Sibling NC Half Sibling JC Half Sibling Sister
SW Social Worker
Right, where was I?
People who know me will know I am an avid fan of Social Media, be it Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, it appeals so it will come as no surprise to learn that Facebook was my first port of call for this search and low and behold within only a short time I found the very person I was searching for.
Fluke? Maybe….Well here follows many a late night searching through this poor woman’s Facebook page like a stalker ..fuelled with Red and a thirst for knowledge her profile pic winged its way over the web like a virus to trusted close friends email addresses .
‘Yes I definitely see a resemblance’ and ‘Wow, she looks great for her age’ and even ‘ Well if that’s the right one then you are gonna age really well’ from Hubby . This spurred my curiosity on with a vengeance. I soon found myself lost on beaches in the Caribbean, windsurfing with long lost birth relatives in the Azores and enjoying winter sun in pictures until the small hours. Scratchy eyes and a sore back were the only things to cease this stalking on several nights. So it began…
Armed with the skills gained from a very successful Head-hunt career, I set to work , before my initial meeting with my assigned Social worker.
As far as I could establish this woman was visually about the right age (61) Tall ( as am I) Thick Hair (yep) and almost a perfect fit? Well she was!! :-). She worked in an office in Jamaica for the main Jamaican Newspaper group. She’s pretty high up actually and the link between what she does now and how my career has panned out was uncanny.Now, its safe to say I became somewhat fixated on this poor woman and had to practically sit on my hands to stop myself adding her as a bloody Facebook friend! I didn’t but I tell you it was so tempting it almost killed me. So…I attend my first meeting with my Social Worker. I will take a few minutes to describe him so you get a clear picture of who was taking my life in his hands for the next few months (my ‘life’ being my ‘case’).
We will call him SW from now on. He was tallish, comfy shoes, sleeveless pullover, checked shirt, tie, glasses, bald head. Very sweet and affable . Friendly and played by the rules . I think deep down he would have liked to bend some but I got that his hands were tied by red tape in many areas. So he had to refuse to bend even when he knew a bend was essential . Despite my protests!?Ha!. I gave him the benefit of the doubt but continued to have doubts that we were a match to be doing this together. In hindsight I think we probably were, if only by our differences.
I entered the tiny council back office at the local Adoption division, complete with plastic flowers in a jam jar, a blind half hanging off the window and a tiny table between us. I was especially comforted by the posters on domestic abuse that lined the walls of this box room. In fairness it was all as I expected….
He sat down and faced me with a friendly and sincere look on his face. I was in no doubt this was well meaning and he proceeded to outline the ‘process’ to me. We went through the pitfalls of such a search and how some people cant handle the outcome blah blah..Yes whatever!! I knew all this stuff, (of course I didn’t but that’s me all over!) been over it 1000 times in my head…Come on, lets crack on!!
So I hand him my papers, details and addresses of my Birth Mother (aka Facebook stalking victim ) and said we must write to her in the first instance. Hmmmm! ..he looked doubting and pointed out that as a local council they were unable to help me if she lived overseas..’So why am I here ?’ I asked. He decided that all the ‘counselling and welfare stuff was their job whatever happened in the end. I accepted this but asked if he might still write to her as I still needed than level of protection. Now, you have to hand it to him he went along with my claim that this was in fact BM and agreed to send a letter.
Roll on 3 weeks…yes 3 bloody weeks and I have heard nothing at all since that last meeting. So , I contact him and ask to see a copy of the letter and whether it has in fact arrived and been signed for. At this point he tells me that they are not able to send letters signed for?? I asked why not? The letter had of course gone astray
Apparently it is likely to cause MORE of a shock if you open this kind of letter AFTER signing for it than if it just lands on your door mat..what a crock of shit! Ok so it may come as a shock to learn a long lost child is looking for you. But surely its not a shock if the intended recipient did give up a child and is now faced with her past in letter form?
Seething I chewed my lip and demanded to see a copy of the letter . Now if you want a letter to reach anyone in the Caribbean you expect the address would need to be somewhat detailed. Instead of the full address he could have had any half wit find for him , he wrote the letter address as follows:not exact of course but you get the drift…
Ms VB, This Village, That Town, Jamaica, The Caribbean
I would have been more successful sending it on the back of a one eyed pigeon , pointing it Southwards, with the instructions..’As soon as you reach the Caribbean Island of Jamaica, find a three legged goat and strap this letter to its chest and point it inland…’ Hmmmm, not impressed so far I tell you!
I told you before I don’t believe rules are there to be kept in every instance and this was no way to try and reach my BM so I went through a process of finding the address…this involved a neat gin for courage one sunny mid afternoon when I rang the London office of the Newspaper group requesting the number of the office in the small village in Jamaica where the websites suggested she worked. I rang the number and was put through internally on their switchboard!! Yikes!! it connected after only 3 rings. Heart in mouth I spoke to the kindly Jamaican voice on the other end and jotted down the exact postal address. It only occurred to me afterwards that this could in fact have been VB but i shook that feeling off as the Gin resurfaced in my throat at the very idea. Had I just unwittingly spoken to my BM ?? Noooooo!! That’s not how it was meant to happen. I re-wrote the letter on neat headed paper (complete with website logo) and resent it to the full address complete with £6.95 worth of recorded delivery charge. Ugh
Moving on…I left for a much needed holiday and planned to restart this search after a rest of mind and body in some sunshine. However, during this break I was still checking emails avidly awaiting a response to my letter or at least some follow up from SW. Sadly I learned my old school BFF passed away during that break , not unexpected but still shocking to digest. I was left still awaiting news from my SW.
Finally he mailed me: He had found her…yes!! Progress….apparently! The only snag was her date of birth made her 7 when she gave birth to me! WTF? Really? Are you mad or what? Angry and disappointed I still decided she was worth stalking on Facebook!:-)
She looked pretty good for 61…well she bloody would wouldn’t she! She was 47! Two teenage daughters and a grandson! One daughter was a posing type , way too many posing pouting selfies on her Facebook ..I had already decided she needed a talking to when we got to meet. Wait!! This was all wrong…why am I even looking through her photo gallery..she was 7 when I was born..Ugh! You see this is how you get! Its a rollercoaster of nonsense most of it and you find yourself lurching from one place to the next without logic
I replied to SW saying that in actual fact me and my Earth Angel thought we had found a closer match and were looking into it more closely …”We have to Carry on searching ” I said but already I suspected he had had enough of me and my determination…he was maybe regretting taking me on!?!
Having spent hours researching my own history on Genes Reunited , Ancestry.co.uk and all manner of similar websites I decided my BM had been a pretty busy woman…it seemed there was a child registered prior to my birth , then me, then two further children. I couldn’t bring myself to believe this at first …First thought was she must have a womb like a whoopi cushion! Second thought ‘OMG how many siblings???’
Earth Angel and I were on the trail of someone I found in the right area, near enough to where I was born (Manchester), the next town in fact. Right name, has married as VB did into the same surname, making her VS
Talking of names: There was no way my BM could have married someone with a name like Postlethwaite or Sylvester or Marconi..NO, of course not…she had to marry someone called SMITH..Yes! SMITH…now that is so helpful isnt it!? Not
So we only have the most common of surname to search for, Brown would have been only marginally less common . Smith?!! Damnit!
So VS was our target. Narrowing this down on 192.com it was clear we still have a huge list to work through but not so many in my target area.I wrote the introduction letter, including basic information about my birth date and place and other points only this person would even know, like her occupation at time of my birth etc) Sending the letter to Earth Angel to post with her address as return address, again we waited.
Meanwhile my first victim of Facebook stalking responds directly to me by email!!
‘Very sorry but I am not the person you seek, I married into the name B’ Now you must understand that the B name is NOT common and is almost unique to that region of the Caribbean (I have heard it elsewhere but research proved its origins were likely from Jamaica) so she may in some random distant way be linked to my BM anyway..but its of no importance at this point. Just saying!
So VS is in our sights. Its important to note that in my view unless proven otherwise, once I decide you are this person, YOU ARE. Prove you are not then we can move on! Remembering my colouring its hilarious looking back now imagining a bleach blonde VS reading this letter thinking ‘ Like what the hell is this about??. Next thing we get a reply. Not from VS but from daughter of VS. Hmmmm! Oops! She is none too impressed either , you can tell by the tone of her reply, but swears down we have the wrong person….
We decide unless VS herself replied then this could be a Red herring, a Smoke screen, AKA Total Bollox!
So we reply back again….’Perhaps you could confirm the following: What was her occupation during that time and did she live in M at any point between 1969 and 1980. The reply was curt but did wierdly confirm the occupation? Damnit! still none the wiser we leave it on the back burner to come back to at a later date …poor woman..almost wish I could have apologised but hey , needs must…
At this point I have maximum credits on 192.com, Genes reunited and all sorts and am building my family tree online with all these faceless siblings and family members
Meanwhile SW is pulling out all the stops (and I don’t doubt the remaining hairs from his head with the stress of working with me!) I wondered if he was annoyed or impressed at how pro-active I am in doing this in my own unorthodox way, without any real input from him…I could only help myself couldn’t I? He’s kind but pretty much my sounding board in the process so I happily run my progress past him out of courtesy, not for advice as such.
So we are three women down and still not found the right one…….
I will leave you there for now,
Thanks for reading