Mother, 72, who was forced to place her daughter up for adoption after falling pregnant as an unmarried 17-year-old reveals she STILL hopes to be reunited – so, do YOU recognise the baby in these photos?
- Mother Carol Long, 72, of Bedfordshire, fell pregnant as an unmarried teenager
- Her family weren’t supportive and she was sent to a home for unmarried mothers
- Spent 6 weeks with her daughter before being made to place her up for adoption
- Carol has always dreamed of a reunion and is now searching for her daughter
A desperate pensioner has launched a last-ditch campaign to find the daughter she was forced to give up as a teenager.
It’s been more than half a century since Carol Long’s baby girl was wrenched from her arms and forcibly adopted, and now, aged 72, Carol fears time is running out to trace her firstborn.
She’s sharing her story now in the hope somebody will recognise the pictures of Adelaine and help reunite the pair.
Carol’s story began in Shefford, Bedfordshire, in 1964. After finding out she was pregnant at 17, Carol, who now lives in Pennsylvania, confided in her Air Force boyfriend, Robert, who remained supportive.
Desperate search: Carol Long, 72, is determined to track down the daughter she was forced to place up for adoption when she was 17. Then a teenager and living in Bedfordshire, Carol fell pregnant to her Air Force boyfriend and was sent to a home for unmarried mothers
Much missed: Baby Adelaine, pictured at four months in a photograph sent to Carol by a woman from the home. Carol has treasured the black and white photograph for decades and now hopes it can be used to help find her long lost daughter. Do you recognise the baby?
No alternative: Carol fell pregnant aged 17, pictured left. Her then boyfriend’s mother offered to take care of the couple and their baby at her home in Pennsylvania but Carol’s own mother refused. Pictured right, the teddy bear that is one of the only mementos she has of Adelaine
Precious: Carol spent six weeks in the home with Adelaine, pictured at four months old, before she was made to place her up for adoption. The baby was adopted by a young couple
He wrote to his mother in Pennsylvania, who even offered to put the young couple – and their baby – up in her home.
But when Carol – whose maiden name is Peters – finally confided in her mother about her situation, things took a different turn.
‘My mum was clear on two things: she couldn’t afford to feed another mouth, and I wasn’t moving away anywhere,’ Carol recalls.
Two months later, in the late summer of 1964, a social worker arrived at Carol’s home and took her to Holt House, a home for unmarried mothers.
Carol told Femail: ‘It was 40 miles away and filled with young girls like me. The staff were kind but left us mostly to our own devices, awaiting our fate.
‘It was nice to finally be able to share my pregnancy journey with someone. Up until then, my pregnancy had been largely ignored at home and when I’d started to show, I’d had to quit my job at the café and stay indoors.
Lasting impact: Carol, pictured aged six (left) and as a teenager (right), moved out of her hometown shortly after her baby was adopted. She later moved to the US after accepting the proposal of an Air Force boyfriend. The couple divorced and Carol later remarried
Devastated: Carol, pictured centre with her mother and brother, was told when she fell pregnant that she could not keep the baby. Her parents sent her to a home for unmarried mother and ceased all communication until she returned home after the adoption
‘Now I was with girls in the same condition and we could talk freely about the new sensations we were experiencing. The kicks, the swishes – even comparing the size of our bellies.
‘But at night, you could hear girls sobbing in the dorms. Evenings were the worst as once the lights went out, we had nothing to do but think about our babies, and how they would soon be taken away from us.’
The moment Carol had been dreading arrived on the afternoon of 3 September, 1964, when Carol went into labour.
She was rushed to North General Bedford Hospital and given heavy painkillers. She delivered in a haze.
‘I don’t remember Adelaine being born,’ Carol explains, ‘because I was so drugged up. I’ve often wondered if they did that so that we wouldn’t remember the labour and bond with our babies the same way a normal labouring woman would.’
Building a life: Carol, pictured left with her sister Ann, went on to become a mother to four more children but has never forgotten her first born. She now wants to find Adelaine
Baby girls: Carol and her second husband struggled to fall pregnant so they adopted a girl from Korea named Destiny, pictured left. By the time the couple went to collect her from the airport they knew they were pregnant with their youngest daughter Shelby, right as a newborn
The next day, Carol returned to the home with her little girl, who she’d named Adelaine Shelly Peters.
‘As soon as I could, I found a quiet moment, and unwrapped the blankets swaddled around Adelaine. Then I pulled off her mitts and booties, and counted her fingers and toes. I took in every inch of her and touched her soft cheeks.’
Consigning every detail to memory, Carol knew it wasn’t a good idea to bond with her baby, but couldn’t help herself.
For six weeks, Carol fed, bathed, cared for and cuddled Adelaine. She sang to her and rocked her to sleep in her arms.
‘I desperately wanted to keep her,’ Carol recalls, ‘and hoped I could get myself a job and a small bedsit. But it quickly became clear that plan wasn’t possible. Who would look after Adelaine when I worked? My family weren’t going to help and Robert wasn’t around any more.’
Family: Carol with daughters Shelby, left, Destiny, right, and one of her sons, far right. She has always maintained that she is a mother of five as Adelaine still holds a place in her heart
Struggle: Carol, pictured with daughter Shelby, was once targeted by a cruel online scammer who posed as Adelaine. However she has never given up hope of finding her real daughter
Soon after Carol had confessed to her mother about the pregnancy, all communication from Robert had stopped.
And since moving into Holt House, the radio silence from her family spoke volumes.
‘Nobody checked up on me or the baby, to see if she was here or if I was OK. Then, about five weeks after Adelaine was born, I was told about a young married couple who’d already adopted a little boy, and now wanted a sibling for him.
‘The couple wanted to adopt my Adelaine. It broke my heart to imagine Adelaine going to a new family, and a new Mummy. I felt so angry because I was her mum, but what choice did I have?’
Days later, a social worker told Carol to say her goodbyes, explaining giving her child away was all ‘for the best.’
Carol did as she was told and moments later, Adelaine was lifted from her arms and taken away. The following day, Carol returned to her family home, the only evidence of her baby a birth certificate and teddy.
Carol was expected to sweep it all under the carpet. Her family didn’t know if she’d had a boy or a girl, and didn’t ask.
But Carol, now a mum of two grown up sons and two daughters – including one she adopted – couldn’t forget her firstborn baby.
Support: Carol with her daughter Shelby. Carol is sharing her story in the hope of finding her eldest daughter decades after she last held her in her arms
She searched for her missing child in the faces of every baby she saw in town, and willed the universe to bring them together again.
Carol says: ‘It was incredibly painful and I felt angry and hurt when I saw women with bumps or babies in their arms. The only thing separating them from me – and me from my Adelaine – was the wedding band on their fingers.
‘It felt so unfair that my baby had been taken away.’
Just six months after Adelaine’s birth, Carol knew she had to leave the town she’d grown up in, so haunted was she by the forced adoption.
She accepted a proposal from another Air Force man and moved to Pennsylvania USA, where she had two sons, Wayne and Jimmy.
All the while, Carol kept the two black and white pictures a kindly social worker had posted to her of Adelaine aged around four months, and the birth certificate hidden in her underwear drawer.
She hoped to one day use them to track down Adelaine.
Tireless: Carol, pictured recently, has registered her DNA with geneology websites and shared her story with a magazine, in a bid to find Adelaine
Years passed and Carol’s first marriage broke down. She remarried and the pair struggled to get pregnant. They decided to adopt a little girl from Korea called Destiny.
‘She really was my destiny because by the time we went to collect her from the airport I knew I was pregnant again.
‘My youngest daughter Shelby was born six months later and I loved being a mother to four. But when anyone who asked, I told them I had five children. Adelaine was always in my thoughts.’
In 2014, when Shelby gave Carol her first computer, the pensioner began searching for her lost child, and fell victim to a cruel con-woman claiming to be Adelaine.
Carol explains: ‘This Michelle didn’t seem to know any of the details of her birth and wouldn’t send me any pictures of herself. When she finally did, I knew it couldn’t be my daughter.
‘Adelaine had looked just like me as a baby, with deep-set dark eyes. This woman clearly wasn’t my child.
‘I cut all ties with her and she bombarded me over a number of weeks. Eventually, a woman claiming to be Michelle’s daughter called and said she’d died, and blamed me for putting stress on her.’
It later transpired the same ‘Michelle’ had contacted a number of mums like Carol, also searching for the children forcibly adopted in the UK in the 60s.
‘It was all terribly upsetting,’ Carol recalls, ‘and because she never asked me for money, I can only conclude she had evil in her heart.’
Longing: Carol with her daughter’s teddy bear, a photo, and a sign pleading for help
Since then, Carol has registered her DNA with geneology websites and shared her story with a magazine, in a bid to find Adelaine.
She remains hopeful she’ll one day be reunited with her daughter, but hopes it comes sooner, rather than later.
‘For over half a century,’ Carol says, ‘I’ve been longing for my daughter and wondering what happened to her after I last saw her.
‘I can only hope the family that adopted her have been kind and loving, and she’s lived a good life.’
Carol accepts it’s possible too that either Adelaine knows about Carol and doesn’t want to meet her, or doesn’t know she was adopted.
Final message: Carol, pictured recently, said to Adelaine: ‘If you find it in your heart to contact me, please know that the whole family is waiting with open arms to get to know you’
In her own words, Carol’s hoping for the best, and preparing for the worst, though she prays somebody – or Adelaine herself – will read this and recognise the details or the pictures and get in touch.
Carol, who remains in Pennsylvania but for years returned to Bedfordshire to trawl through archives in an attempt to find Adelaine, has a poignant message for her lost child.
She says: ‘Adelaine, wherever you are, I want you to know how very sorry I am that I couldn’t keep you beside me all these years, and how much I’ve missed you. I’ve never stopped loving you, thinking about you and I remain grateful to your parents for raising you.
‘If you find it in your heart to contact me, please know that the whole family is waiting with open arms to get to know you. I hope it’s not too late.’
Do you recognise the baby in these pictures, know what happened to Adelaine, or think you might be her? Visit www.vtfeatures.co.uk and search Finding Adelainei
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