‘Every day I have to tell myself I’m enough’- Woman’s heartbreak after being rejected by her Irish birth mum
A British woman who set out on a search to find her Irish birth parents has said she does not regret finding her family despite their rejection of her.
Anne Marie Gill was raised in a happy family in Buxton in Derbyshire but always expressed an interest in meeting her biological parents, who she knew came from Northern Ireland.
Sadly a random search online using her biological mother’s name unveiled her birth father’s obituary, which Anne Marie said was an extremely difficult discovery. The obituary, printed on the first anniversary of his death, told Anne Marie that her parents had married a few years after her birth and went on to have several more children.
“I can’t describe the profound sense of loss I felt. In the same moment of absolute flabbergasted joy that I found my parents, finally after all those years. Even now I can feel this overwhelming grief that I was too late,” said Anne Marie, who featured on TV3’s Adoption Stories.
Despite Anne-Marie’s upset, the obituary provided her with the information she needed to contact her birth mother and she penned an emotional letter hoping to connect.
“I penned a letter. I didn’t plan it, I didn’t write lots and lots of practice runs. I just wrote from the heart. I gave her my contact details and by six o’clock the next day I had the most beautiful email from her,” said Anne Marie.
“She had nursed me, fed me, bathed me, taken me for walks, got me baptised, her best friend was my godmother, you know, she was my mum.
“The adoption agency had told her that if she didn’t sign the adoption papers they would tell her parish priest and tell him that she had had a baby out of wedlock and he would tell her family.
“She said she came to the home and was holding me and wanted to spend some time with me. She remembers I was wearing a yellow dress. They [the adoption agency] said they needed her to sign the papers and that they’d just change my nappy while she signed them. So they took me away and she signed the papers and they never brought me back. So she never ever got to say goodbye. She said that haunted her whole life because she didn’t know I was being taken for good.”
After communicating online, Anne Marie and her birth family arranged to meet in a London hotel.
“I got to the hotel and I knew my life was going to change forever just beyond the threshold. The door opened and there she was. I just stepped into her arms and it was just like coming home. I can’t explain it, it was the most familiar, comfortable feeling, that mother child bond was just there in that moment.”
The Northern Irish family welcomed Anne Marie wholeheartedly and she flew over to spend some time with them, where she was given an insight into the life she had missed.
On her 41st birthday, Anne Marie’s birth mum flew to the UK to spend the weekend and gifted her a beautiful bracelet from her birth mother with a charm for each birthday that had been missed. It was during this weekend that Anne-Marie introduced her husband Adrian and her children to her birth mother. However, Anne-Marie recalls that the morning of her departure, everything suddenly changed.
“The next day something had shifted. I can’t explain it or put it into words but the atmosphere had moved. It wasn’t anything I could explain. The joy seemed to have dissipated. There was an underlying tension.”
Two days after he mum left the England for Northern Ireland, Anne Marie received a heartbreaking email in which she expressed her desire to end their relationship. The email was written on behalf of Anne Marie’s birth family and did not offer an explanation for their wishes.
Despite several attempts to reconnect by Anne-Marie and her husband, she has not spoken directly to her birth family for two years. While she does not regret the reunion, she does feel guilty for exposing her family to the hurt.
“I wouldn’t have brought my children into it. I feel so guilty for bringing such hurt into their lives at such a tender age and particularly my eldest. It had a profound effect on her. As a mother you’re supposed to protect your children and I feel like I failed them, so I would do it differently but I still feel I needed to find my mother.
“I have to work really hard to think it wasn’t about me. Every day I have to tell myself that I’m enough.”
‘Adoption Stories’ airs on Wednesday 12th October at 8.30pm on TV3.