Thursday 22 March 2018

'It was like seeing myself in drag' - Adopted man meets his long lost sister after 40 years apart

Paul Little and Maggie Lyng Credit: TV3
Paul Little and Maggie Lyng Credit: TV3

A brother and sister reunited after more than 40 years apart instantly recognised each other, exclaiming “it’s myself in drag” when they met for the first time.

Paul Little and Maggie Lyng were born seven years apart and never had the chance to meet.

The siblings were both put up for adoption following their births and only learned of each other in 2013 when a social worker contacted them to say they had found a match.

“It was a relief for me,” said Mr Little, who had submitted his details to the National Contact Preference Register in 2007.

Paul and Maggie when they met in 2013 for the first time Credit: TV3
Paul and Maggie when they met in 2013 for the first time Credit: TV3

“Just over two years ago I knew nothing about my past, about Maggie. Now I’ve a better picture of who I am.”

Speaking as part of TV3’s series ‘Adoption Stories’, Mr Little, who was born in 1967, said he had immediately recognised his long lost sister Maggie when they first met.

“It was like looking at myself in drag!” he said.

Growing up Ashtown, close to the Phoenix Park in Dublin, Mr Little never suspected he was adopted because people used to remark on how much he looked like his sister and mother.

Paul Little Credit: TV3
Paul Little Credit: TV3

It was only when he was applying for a job and needed his long form birth certificate that he found out - at the age of 27.

Ms Lyng, who was adopted by a couple in 1974, said she had been delighted with the news she had found her brother, as it meant the pair was one step closer to finding their birth mother.

Prior to the meeting, she had become seriously ill and was given five possible diagnoses’, three of which were cancer.

Denied access to her birth mother’s medical information, eventually she was told her natural mother had been treated for breast cancer and was diabetic.

Ms Lyng said she was furious that this information had not been supplied to her.

After meeting each other, the siblings wrote to their birth mother, via a social worker, asking for a meeting.

Maggie Lyng Credit: TV3
Maggie Lyng Credit: TV3

Initially refusing, their mother agreed to meet. Describing the meeting, Mr Little said:

“There was an amazed look on her face and she kept looking from me to Maggie and back again, which I took as a good step – ‘she must like us’ I thought.

“I couldn’t bring myself to call her mum or ma though, as I already had one and I didn’t want to dishonour her memory in any shape or form, as she was the one who made me who I am today.”

Ms Lyng added “They were the ones who pick you up and put you to bed.”

“I told her I had had a happy childhood, and that she probably had made the best decision for me. I told her my parents would probably have liked to thank her.”

Shocked to learn that she had been with her birth mother for three weeks before she was taken away, Ms Lyng said the meeting had changed a lot of what she thought had happened following her birth.

“In my own head I had thought that someone had come in when I was born and just took me away.

“But when she told me she had looked after me for three weeks I was shocked – I know now she remembered me because I wasn’t just taken from her. She held me for those three weeks before she was forced to give me up.

Mr Little also said he was shaken by what he had learned of his own adoption.

“The morning they told her they were taking me, she said she’d been praying all day. When the nun took me away, she was asked if I had a name, it was ‘Aidan Mary’ she said because ‘Mother Mary would always be there to look over me’… that was difficult to hear.”

Hear more of Paul and Maggie's story in episode five of ‘Adoption Stories’ this Thursday, July 9, at 8.30pm on TV3.

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