All I want for Christ­mas is to find Mum and say good­bye

When Carolyn Jones was born pre­ma­turely over 40 years ago, her mother was told that her baby had no chance of sur­vival, so she left the hos­pi­tal think­ing her new­born was dead. But that baby - Carolyn - sur­vived…

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Christ­mas, Mother’s Day and my birth­day are the worst. Spe­cial oc­ca­sions tinged with sad­ness… I look up at the sky and won­der if my mum is out there, some­where, look­ing up at the same stars.

I was born in St Mary’s Hos­pi­tal, London, on 28 March 1973. On my birth cer­tifi­cate, it says that my mother is Pa­tri­cia Ross, and that she was 19. But all the other de­tails are scant.

What I do know is that my mother ar­rived at the hos­pi­tal in labour. She was only six months preg­nant and she must have known her baby was

com­ing too early. I was born weigh­ing just 1lb 10oz, and my mother was told I would not sur­vive. Ba­bies born that small and pre­ma­ture had very low odds of sur­viv­ing then. My mother filled in the birth cer­tifi­cate, then left the hos­pi­tal think­ing her baby was dead. But I didn’t die.

I’m 44 now. I have had a happy life, but there has al­ways been the shadow of ‘what if ?’. That Slid­ing Doors mo­ment, that things could have been very dif­fer­ent if my mother had known I had sur­vived. At the time, so­cial ser­vices at­tempted to trace her – but she’d left no clues to her real iden­tity.

At six months old, I was fos­tered by Derek and Roz Jones, a lovely cou­ple from Maiden­head, Berk­shire, and later they adopted me. Along with their two kids – my big brother, Mur­ray, and sis­ter, Sam – we were a happy fam­ily.

Grow­ing up, I al­ways knew I had been adopted and, as I got older, the story of my lost mother was gen­tly told to me.

When I was seven, Derek – who worked for Bri­tish Air­ways – was of­fered a job in the United States and we all moved to Simi Val­ley, Cal­i­for­nia.

In 2002, aged 29, I met Robert, and we mar­ried a year later. In April 2003, I gave birth to our son At­las. I’m a nanny and I live in Hen­der­son, Ne­vada.

But, on spe­cial oc­ca­sions like Christ­mas, I still won­dered about my English mother. Was she think­ing about me? Did she ever won­der where I was buried? Be­com­ing a mum re­ally fo­cused my cu­rios­ity. The fierce love you feel for your baby takes you by sur­prise. I couldn’t stop think­ing about the woman out there, some­where in the world, who had car­ried me for six months and didn’t even know I ex­isted, or that she had a grand­son.

But, of course, the re­ally big ques­tion is: What would have hap­pened if she had known I was alive? Would she have left the hos­pi­tal that day with­out me? I wanted to know. So I con­tacted St Mary’s Hos­pi­tal in London and stud­ied my birth cer­tifi­cate for clues.

The cer­tifi­cate was filled in at the hos­pi­tal and I found out that, at the time, po­lice went to the given ad­dress – a squat in west London – but the oc­cu­pants claimed they had never heard of Pa­tri­cia. She gave her place of birth as New­cas­tle, but in­ves­ti­ga­tions in the north­east again drew a blank.

I tried other meth­ods – a psy­chic, a pri­vate de­tec­tive – but noth­ing threw up any con­crete leads. I joined a few web­site groups for adopted chil­dren search­ing for birth par­ents but, again, noth­ing.

Then, in July this year, I posted a video on Face­book beg­ging for help. My dream was to find my mum in time for this Christ­mas. I ex­plained who I was and the un­usual cir­cum­stances of my birth. The post went vi­ral – I couldn’t be­lieve it was watched by 1.6 mil­lion peo­ple and shared 49,000 times.

I des­per­ately hoped it would trig­ger some­one’s mem­ory. Even if my mum kept her preg­nancy a se­cret, she must have con­fided in some­one.

Even­tu­ally, I joined an ances­try web­site where you can reg­is­ter your DNA. From that, I made a heart­break­ing dis­cov­ery. I was put in touch with a man who shared my DNA, who turned out to be my birth mother’s brother. It seems she lied about her age and her name on my birth cer­tifi­cate. She was called Grace, not Pa­tri­cia, and she was 17, not 19, when she had me. From what I have dis­cov­ered, she was born in New­cas­tle and had four broth­ers. She ran away from home when she was 16.

But the most bit­ter dis­cov­ery I’ve made is that Grace passed away in 2003 aged 47 due to kid­ney fail­ure. I never got to meet her and, sadly, she’d lost con­tact with her fam­ily by then, so I’m now search­ing for her ex-hus­band. Hope­fully, he will know where she is buried, and I’ll be able to stand at her grave and say good­bye.

I can’t change the past. What I’d most like for Christ­mas is to be lay­ing a place for her at my fam­ily ta­ble – and that will never hap­pen now…

But if any­one reads this and knows who Grace’s ex-hus­band is, I would like to hear from them and put all this un­cer­tainty be­hind me. So next Christ­mas, when I look at the stars, I will know my search is fi­nally over.

‘I have had a happy life – but there has al­ways been the shadow of “what if?”’

‘If there’s one thing I’ve learnt’ ‘Fam­ily are the peo­ple you carry in your heart.’

Tod­dler Carolyn was adopted by a fos­ter fam­ily

Carolyn has spent years search­ing for her birth mother

Hav­ing son At­las made Carolyn even more de­ter­mined to find her mum

Carolyn’s birth cer­tifi­cate

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