IAN Todd had some difficult decisions to make as a big birthday beckoned
So, where do I begin? That was the first question. As my 40th birthday fast approached I had finally decided, after a lifetime of wondering, to trace my birth mother. Conscious of my advancing years and also my mum’s, it really felt like now or never. I was also now a parent myself of two wonderful children and needed to know my family health background for their health and wellbeing, and also my own both emotional and physical.
So, like most of the world I Googled, entering a simple two-word search, “adoption” and “Scotland”. Among the many entries that popped up was Birthlink, who ran the Adoption Contact Register, which seemed a sensible place to start. Perhaps my birth mum was also looking for me and had registered herself.
I had friends and acquaintances who had been down the reunion path on their own and I knew it wasn’t always a happy outcome, indeed, often the opposite and an intermediary made real sense. As it transpired, their office was in the next street to mine and I popped in to see them on my lunch break. To my shock we found I had been adopted from that very office when it was Family Care in 1975.
I was excited and nervous to find that my birth mum had put herself on the Adoption Contact Register some years back, and although the first attempt to contact her failed, my wonderful caseworker Hazel persevered, tracking down my birth mum to her current address. A letter was sent to Caroline on my behalf and to my delight she responded; she wanted to meet me.
Birthlink facilitated the introduction between us at their office and also to my surprise but ultimate delight, my sisters. What followed was a unique, emotional and very rewarding experience. After hugs, photograph swapping, some family stories and the inevitable questions, we all went down to the cafe below the Birthlink office to continue our reunion. I was very proud to find I was an uncle to my younger sister’s son and daughter.
I have retained a good relationship with my birth family and feel my life is complete. The peace of mind that is so often denied those who have been adopted has been granted me through the process and for that I will always be grateful.
I do realise, however that I have been lucky, my birth family are a part of my life but not all reunions or attempts to be reunited end up with such a positive outcome.
Ultimately, becoming a parent and the thought of losing one of mine were the drivers that pushed me to action.
I retained a close relationship with Birthlink and was delighted to be asked by the then Chairman, Dick Scott, if I would like to join the board to help ensure the continued success of the organisation for the benefit of those it seeks to help. I was delighted to do so and am now in my fifth year as Trustee.
• Ian Todd is Trustee of Birthlink, founder of People Scotland & Corporate Social Responsibility Scotland and Vice Convenor Scottish Charity Finance Group.