I was born on the 9th January 1961 in South Sydney Hospital and brought up with an adopted brother Christopher by wonderful parents Daphne and Bede. In 1981 Bede died suddenly and while looking for documents, Chris found both his and my ‘Order of Adoption’ papers. For Chris, it was a total shock and he didn’t tell me at the time. I found out about his discovery in 1984. This news confirmed my suspicion and sparked the start of my 32-year search to find my birth parents. The ‘Order of Adoption’ gave my birthmother’s name as Anne Watkins.
Over the next 30 years I was relentless in my search, taking advantage of every change in the law regarding access to information. Eventually, I turned to new sites that became available such as Ancestry and Facebook and others but I got no closer to finding Anne and had long doubted Watkins was Anne’s surname. Multiple search agencies also doubted the name.
In April 2015 when I had almost given up, I saw a Facebook article about adoptees finding birthparents through Ancestry DNA. I immediately ordered a kit and within six weeks got my results. I learned of my ethnicity as well as discovering many distant cousins, the first blood relatives, besides my children, I had ever encountered.
For the next eighteen months I spent many hours analysing my results, contacting newly discovered cousins asking for help to find a connection, knowing full well the odds were against me but DNA was my last and only hope.
In March 2017, after a day’s outing I logged into Ancestry, as I did several times every day, and was shocked to find a first cousin match, her name was Janie. After a few messages, Janie established our connection was through her uncle, Donald, an English Film Producer who died in Wales in 1991. Donald fit the non-identifying information and was the only relative of Janies living in Sydney in the 50s/60s. Unfortunately, no one in Donald’s family knew I existed or who the birthmother could be.
Over the next week I set about building my paternal family tree. I contacted a 4th cousin Stephen who I had been working with for several weeks, to tell him of my discovery. Stephen wasn’t related to Janie so I knew we were related through my birthmother.
Stephen went over the non-identifying information I had on Anne and combed his own family tree to see what he could find. He found one name that fit most of the information, Anne Brown (real name changed for anonymity).
Anne Brown had five siblings not two as the non-identifying information suggested for Anne Watkins. Anne Brown was born in Numarkah Victoria not Portland Victoria. However, Anne Brown was brought up in Portland. Portland was the town shown as Anne Watkins’s birth place on my original birth certificate.
Stephen messaged his findings to me and I immediately started searching for Anne Brown with the hope of confirming this Anne was my birthmother.
Within two hours I found that Anne Brown moved to the US, married, had three children, got divorced and died in the US in 2006. I found one of her daughters on Facebook but decided not to contact her but found several Brown’s on her Facebook friend list. I found a phone number for one of the Browns and rang, it was Anne’s brother.
He didn’t know if Anne adopted a baby but he confirmed that Anne was living in Sydney from 1959-1961 and he suggested his other sister Margaret would know if Anne gave a baby away for adoption. A day later I spoke to Margaret who confirmed that Anne did adopted a baby girl, she also confirmed the father was Donald. Margaret met Donald when she visited Anne in Sydney. Anne moved to Sydney in 1959 when she was 22 to do her midwifery. Anne met Donald soon after arriving. Donald was 40 and married.
After 32 years my search came to an end and the family reunions begun. On the most part the reunions have been positive. I have five half-siblings, two paternal and three maternal. I have met one paternal half-sister who lives in Brisbane and I keep regular contact with two others who live overseas. Two maternal half-siblings don’t want anything to do with me but I am building a close relationship to my maternal Aunts and Uncles and I’ve met many of my 1st cousins on both sides.
My search for birth family might be over but my genealogy research and DNA analysis days are not. Since uncovering my birth family, I’ve used my learnt skills to identifying the birth family of my late husband’s paternal side as his father was also adopted and I’m currently helping two other adoptees with their DNA journey. Records may not be truthful but DNA doesn’t lie.