Scottish woman separated from mum at birth hugs her for first time

Norah Gibson with mum Rita Campbell, who visited from Canada. Picture: SWNS
Norah Gibson with mum Rita Campbell, who visited from Canada. Picture: SWNS
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A woman separated from her mum at birth has spoken of being able to hug her for the first time after the pair were reunited - 61 years later.

Norah Gibson, 63, never knew her birth mother as she was given up for adoption as a newborn, in 1955.

Rita Campbell visited Scotland to be reunited with the daughter she gave up for adoption more than six decades ago. Picture: SWNS

Rita Campbell visited Scotland to be reunited with the daughter she gave up for adoption more than six decades ago. Picture: SWNS

But the question of who she was bothered her relentlessly, and she spent 50 years trying to track down her biological mother, with no luck.

She grew up in a loving home and did not want to upset her adoptive parents by trying to trace her other family.

But when her adoptive father John Gibson died in 1992, she began her search in earnest.

Grandmother-of-five Norah was finally able to get in touch with her birth mother, Rita Campbell, now aged 85, after a TV production company helped with her research.

Norah Gibson as a baby with adoptive dad John Gibson. Picture: SWNS

Norah Gibson as a baby with adoptive dad John Gibson. Picture: SWNS

Two years ago, Rita travelled all the way from Canada to Scotland to meet her illegitimate daughter and they were reunited at Glasgow Airport.

Norah, from Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire said: “My mother was unmarried when she had me, and her parents took control.

“She never had a say in the matter.”

Care worker Norah was inspired to seek out her birth mother after being told at a guest at her own wedding ‘Your mother would be very proud of you’.

Norah Gibson aged 6. Picture: SWNS

Norah Gibson aged 6. Picture: SWNS

The glamorous bride was aged 19 when she wed ex-husband Kenneth McMaster and was shocked when her ancestry was mentioned.

But with the demands of raising four children, Andrew, Gregor, Ross and Lesley, and the tragic loss of her first child, Kenneth, her intentions of tracking down the woman who gave birth to her fell by the wayside.

And Norah was afraid of upsetting her adoptive parents John and his second wife, Peggy, who he married after the death of his first wife, also named Norah.

She described the couple as “exceptional” and loving.

Norah Gibson as a young woman. Picture: SWNS

Norah Gibson as a young woman. Picture: SWNS

After their deaths, she trawled through records in Edinburgh and discovered that when she was born, the name given to her was Anne.

Her mother’s name was listed as Margaret Campbell, who lived at 99 Duntocher Road, Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire.

Determined Norah pulled up the addresses of people named Margaret Campbell who still lived in the neighbourhood, but drew only blanks.

She knocked on doors in the area but to no avail.

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Unbeknown to her, Margaret Campbell was known as Rita - and was living on the other side of the world, in Canada.

Norah Gibson who was adopted at birth.Picture: SWNS

Norah Gibson who was adopted at birth.Picture: SWNS

They were reunited with the help of television producers and began to exchange letters - eventually speaking for the first time on Mother’s Day.

Norah said: “We look alike, we think alike - it is so similar, it’s uncanny.

“My mum kept her secret all her life, there was only one of her brothers who knew.

Their initial letters were short and pragmatic, addressing medical history.

“I think she was in shock and couldn’t quite believe it”, she added.

“It was the most surreal feeling”.

Norah learnt that she had a half-brother, Ian Fair, and got in touch with him too.

And in November 2016, Rita and Ian flew to Scotland to be reunited with their long-lost relative.

As she waited at Glasgow Airport, Norah began to fear they had had a change of heart.

But when tiny Rita, who stands at only 4ft11ins tall, walked through the arrivals hall she flung her arms around her daughter and told her ‘here I am’.

For the first time in 61 years, mother and daughter were able to embrace - as when the baby was born, she had been taken away from Rita immediately.

Norah said: “Her hands were tied, she didn’t have any part in the decision.

“She literally saw me being taken out of the room.”

Poignantly, they visited the building where Norah had been born in Dumbarton - dubbed by her mother as ‘the scene of the crime’.

Over a two-week period, elderly Rita showed Norah the sights of Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, where she had spent her youth.

Norah said: “I’d been looking for more than 50 years and got nowhere.

“I never wanted to give up looking for her.

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“I looked in records in Clydebank Town Hall and in Edinburgh, but all I had was her name and address, I didn’t know she was using the name Rita.”

“She’s just amazing, she’s a lovely wee person.”

In October this year, Norah flew to Canada to meet her ‘second family’ - and met the huge Campbell clan in their hometown, Campbellford, Ontario.

She spent Thanksgiving with them and says she has a lot to be grateful for - including the love and affection shown to her by the family who raised her after she was adopted in 1955.

Norah added: “I’m eternally grateful - I told her ‘if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have my five grandchildren’.

“She created all these lives by going through what she did.

“I had to say that to her.”

Norah Gibson with mum Rita Campbell, who visited from Canada along with Norah's brother Ian Fair. Picture: SWNS

Norah Gibson with mum Rita Campbell, who visited from Canada along with Norah's brother Ian Fair. Picture: SWNS