Laura had always been curious about her birth family. It was 1994 and aged 20 years old she registered on the Adoption Contact Register for Scotland. There was no link but the Scottish Adoption Registry, an index of adoption agency records, managed by Birthlink, identified that Dundee had been the authority responsible for arranging her adoption.
Dundee held Laura’s adoption records in archive. Laura accessed these records and discovered that her birth mother Jane had been in a relationship with Asif, her birth father. He was a married man with a son and a daughter. Asif travelled across the country with his work and the couple had met and fallen for one another. By the time Laura arrived in the springtime of 1974, the relationship was over. The records provided Laura with some narrative and an understanding of her birth parents circumstances. Just knowing these details was helpful at this stage in her life.
Laura’s life was full of love. She married and had three children of her own. Life was good but there was always that tickle of curiosity and wondering about her birth family. What had become of Jane and Asif? In 2013, Laura decided to find out more. With the support of Birthlink she discovered that Jane had been married twice and had five children. Laura wanted to reach out, she wanted to know more about Jane and the family connections; to know the family history; her identity….she did not want to risk doing nothing and living with the regret of missed opportunity. At Laura’s request, Birthlink wrote a letter to Jane. She responded with a simple letter confirming who she was. The Birtlink worker wrote out again, inviting her to call to talk things through. There was no response…..Laura although very disappointed, decided to respect Jane’s silence.
In 2016, Laura contacted Birthlink to explore the option of tracing her birth father Asif. All she knew was that he had been born in Pakistan, was married with a family when he met Jane and that he and his family had lived in England but may have returned to Pakistan. Laura called Birthlink again in 2017 to talk through her thoughts and feelings about tracing Asif. There were so many “what ifs…” to consider. Initial searching in the UK had located addresses for April, Asif’s wife, and Robbie Asif’s son/ Laura’s brother.
What if… :April and Asif were still married/ still together? Would an approach from Laura cause pain?/impact on their relationship?
What if… Asif had not told his family about her? What kind of response would she get if her very existence was to be a source of pain?
Laura decided not to proceed.
In 2018, Laura contacted Birthlink again. Further family research had uncovered that Asif had sadly died in the UK in 2003. She had also discovered that her sister Yasmin and her five children had tragically died in a house fire in 2006. Laura agonised about what to do for the best…..she decided that she wanted to make an approach to Robbie. What if reaching out……could have a positive outcome? Birthlink wrote out to Robbie in May 2018. Three days later, Robbie called the office in response. The news was shared that Laura was Asif’s daughter and Robbie’s sister. Robbie did not know about Laura but explained that the trauma and loss he had experienced in recent years had taught him to cherish his family. Without hesitation, Robbie was open to making a connection with Laura. He talked about his father and described him as a family man, “affectionately known as smiler”. He had been a good father and a good husband, Asif and April had a good marriage. Robbie stated that his only reservation was considering how his mum might feel about Laura. Robbie planned to talk to his mum, since losing Yasmin, they were closer than ever, their relationship was based on trust, “no secrets”. April was initially shocked and upset by the news. Laura existed as a result of Asif being unfaithful. April took some time to process and reflect on her life and relationship with Asif. They had been happy together, a lifetime of love and family. April gave Robbie her blessing to connect with his sister.
Contact between Laura and Robbie was open, honest, and positive from the outset. Over a period of time, they wrote letters, exchanged emails and photographs, and talked on the phone. Laura described Robbie as a “kind and generous man”. He shared memories, stories and photographs of Asif and Yasmin, both of whom were loved and missed by their family and friends. Laura shared that even though she had known about the tragic circumstances of Yasmin’s death, listening to Robbie speak of her and her family had made them “real”. Robbie had said Yasmin would have “ welcomed her into the family with open arms and probably would have driven up to Scotland to meet her right away”. Laura was surprised at the intensity of the emotions she felt about Yasmin. Laura was experiencing grief and loss not only for her sister and her family but also the loss of the opportunity to know them and develop a relationship. Through this reflective process, Laura acknowledged the bittersweet reality of celebrating finding her brother and granted herself permission to mourn the loss of her sister.
Over time. Laura and Robbie and their families have grown really close. They call one another most days, Laura has shared that they are really comfortable in one another’s company, both very similar in terms of their values and outlook on life. Laura and her family have travelled across the country several times to stay with Robbie and his family. They connect. Laura has developed a warm relationship with April whom she describes as having a “very big heart”. During these visits Laura has visited the cemetery where Yasmin and her children are laid to rest. A place to simply feel close to them.
At the beginning of 2020, Laura made the decision that she wanted to try again to connect with Jane. The wonderful relationship she has developed with Robbie has highlighted that sometimes taking a risk can pay off. Laura did not want to risk not trying again and having regrets. She also reflected on the fact that she worries about Jane and hopes that she is happy and loved by supportive family and friends. For Laura, “What ifs” have emerged again: what if I do nothing and miss an opportunity to make a connection? ; what if Jane is now in a position to have some of contact?; what if I can at least let Jane know that I am happy and loved?; what if Jane has never been supported or had the opportunity to talk about her experiences all those years ago? Eight years have passed since Birthlink last wrote out to Jane. Laura does not want to live with “what ifs”. A letter has been posted to Jane inviting her to contact Birthlink.
Now we wait and hope…