Alice first got in touch with Birthlink in 2008 looking to trace her sister Carol. Alice had been raised by her grandmother and only found out later that the woman she knew to be her sister Margaret, was actually her birth mother. Margaret sadly had a terminal illness and died when Alice was only 4 years old. However in those 4 years she had had another child, Carol. Due to her illness, it was agreed that Carol would be formally adopted as Alice’s grandmother was unable to look after both Alice and Carol along with her other children.
Alice had always wanted to find Carol with the hope that she would be able to share more with her about their birth mother and the family. She also hoped that they would be able to get to know each other and hopefully become friends.
There was no match when Alice registered on the Adoption Contact Register for Scotland and it took some time to identify who the record holders were for Carol’s adoption. However when we did, Birthlink were able to enter into a Non-Disclosure Agreement with Alice and the local authority who were record holders. They shared the adopted person’s identifying information with Birthlink which allowed us to search public records to try to trace a current address for Carol.
We wrote out to Carol after speaking with Alice. She was excited but also nervous. We spoke through the many possible outcomes that come from reaching out. It was possible that Carol would not respond. It was possible that she would not be in a place to have any contact. We assured Alice that Birthlink would be there every step of the way to support her and Carol, practically and emotionally.
Carol did get in touch with us. She had never looked into her adoption before and was very close with her adoptive parents who had sadly passed away. They had shared with Carol from an early age that she was adopted and she knew that her birth mother had been unwell and died young. She said it had been a shock to hear that she had a sister but it was not an unpleasant one.
Carol and Alice agreed to share some letters through their Birthlink worker to start and then decided that meeting up would be a good next step. Carol shared with Alice that she had not always had the easiest life and this can make things difficult for her. Although the initial meeting went well, it had made Carol realise that this journey was not an easy one either.
Carol and Alice lived in different parts of the country so meeting regularly was not going to be possible. Carol seemed torn about wanting to be in touch but also being uncertain if it was something she could do. Alice was very understanding. She had been looking for Carol for such a long time and Carol had only known about Alice for a few months. With the support of their Birthlink worker, both Carol and Alice were able to share their thoughts and feelings in a confidential way.
Being in touch and going on this journey was a big step. Out of comfort zones and into the unknown. Not everyone is able to take those steps. For Carol, in the end she decided that she could not continue to be in touch with Alice. Alice was upset by this but also respectful of Carol’s wishes. We agreed to let Carol know that the door is not closed; if she changes her mind, she is welcome to be in touch with Birthlink and Alice again however we would let her make that choice.
Although it has been a long and at times difficult journey, Alice does not regret reaching out to Carol. She hopes that sharing her story lets people know that things don’t always work out in the way that you might hope but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.