I met Alison in 2007 at church. She is fun, passionate and a little crazy. She had moved over to Noosa, Australia, from Christchurch NZ, with her husband and two daughters, and they bought a block of land just 7 mins from my house. I remember one day going for a drive with Alison, to view the block they were about to build on, when suddenly she flew into a screaming fit. I thought I had run over a small child, her reaction was so histerical, but no, she had spotted some kangaroos feeding on her block and she was thrilled. Seriously, scared me out of my skin, they were just kangaroos. I told her she would come to detest them, because they would eat all her plants and yep, I was right, after a little while of living there, she was complaining. Anyway, we became great mates, she became the kind of friend that comes around after dinner in pjs for either a cup of tea, or a glass of wine (depending on how the week was going!). Then after 7 years they decided to return home, to head back to Christchurch, stupid idea really, she left me crying at the airport.
As it goes with true friends and modern technology, we still remained close. Alison decided one day that I needed to 'find my people', my first reaction was, 'buzz off and find your own people!' But if you know Alison, she doesn't deter easily, she sent me a link to a website for a pre-adoption birth certificate. I didn't even know anything like this existed, not that I had ever looked. I knew enough about my birth parents to feel that I was unwanted, and that was enough to not bother looking. I had been adopted at 9 days old and I was fine, so I had told myself all my life.
A few weeks later, I held in my hands the official document that stated my mother's name, the name she had registered me at birth and the stamp that officiated my adoption to my parents, with the name they registered me as. I just cried, for two days, can't even tell you why. It is something so very deep, when you realise you have another identity and the person you know as yourself, is not the whole story. Thanks Alison, it messed me up.
In a time of abundant resources I did what anyone would do, I looked up her name on Facebook. But that didn’t help, so I googled, nope, nothing. Then I employed the help of my son because he has greater skills than me for internet searches, but he didn’t find anything concrete. Just great, nothing, whose dumb idea was this anyway? All it did was upset me and I achieved nothing, so I shelved the whole idea.
In May 2016, I went to visit my friend Alison in Christchurch and she had a whole plan in place. Starting with the Christchurch library, we searched through public records. Of course Alison wasn’t going to let the idea stay dormant. She had made an appointment with the Births, Deaths & Marriage office and off we went to get my mother’s birth certificate. We were then armed with more info, her name, her parent’s names, where she lived, when I was born, age, the whole thing. At the library, we had Alison, Treena (my beautiful friend from Auckland), Marcia, one of the librarian staff that we managed to enlist help from and also a lovely elderly gentleman, Collin. He had experience in such searches and he wanted to make sure we didn’t get it wrong. ‘It never works out well, when you knock on the door of the wrong person’, he told us.
So here we were scanning microfiche film, going through electoral roles and any other form of public information. Alison thought there was a pretty good chance that either grandparent had died, so we even combed through death notices. What helped us was knowing exact names, we were looking for XXX XXX, not exactly common, so that was our advantage. When we found his death notice, this gave us the information of his daughter (my birth mum), her husband, son and what looked liked sisters and their families. Truly Alison missed her calling, she could have been a detective! It was our thinking that my grandmother could be in a nursing home, so Treena was set the task of ringing nursing homes in the local area. As she looked up the white pages, she decided to look through the names of my mother and her husband and in a moment of inspired bravery, she called one number. This was 5 minutes before the library was closing.
The conversation went something like this, ‘Hi, are you XXX? Answer: Yes. Question: Is your father XXX? Answer: Yes, why? Question: My friend is looking for her birth mother? Answer: What year was she born? Question: 1967? Answer: Yes, then there was a long pause, as Treena almost dropped the phone in a panic, we had found her, in one day.
Alison took over the conversation, she is studying social work and began this project thinking that it would make a great essay for her studies, so she knows stuff! She went into ‘safe communication’ mode, putting each side at ease, while making sure all the relevant information was double checked. Yep, it all added up. The right dates, place, people. Crap this could be her!
Two days later I was sitting opposite XXX in a coffee shop. It was surreal. I didn’t want anything, there was no anger (that had past long ago). Her biggest fear was that this was one of those tv shows, when there are cameras and interviews and all that public show. But this was not that, this was one terrified person trying to find her point of origin, wanting to know the story. I needed her to tell me what she had named me, that would be my sign that it was the right person. No one knew that, it had only been recorded on the pre-adoption birth certificate. During the course of our conversation she asked the origin of my name Froyle, because she thought the name she had called me was pretty. Crap, this is actually her, the woman that gave birth to me 48 years ago, sitting in front of me. It is a really weird feeling, quite indescribable.
It was quite an emotional meeting. XXX was pleasant, ready to answer any questions and willing to tell me her story, but we were both scared and it had all been so sudden. The only question I had was, who is my father?
XXX is Scottish, English, Irish descent, blonde hair, blue eyes, attractive. She had been born in Temuka, raised in Pleasant Point and worked as a dental nurse in Timaru. She moved to Auckland to work as a nurse aide at the Greenlane hospital when she met Dalbert King, a good looking Maori boy who had a cute smile, cheeky face and could play the guitar. You can see where this is going! They had a fun filled few months, he sang songs and told lots of great stories. Then XXX moved to Dunedin to study nursing and she found that she not only had her beautiful memories of Dalbert, but she was carrying his child as well.
XXX stayed on at the nursing college, working until it was time to have the baby. She then went to Auckland had the baby, adopted me out and returned to her life. She travelled overseas, met a man and got married, had one son and eventually returned to Christchurch. I was a secret, she hadn't told anyone, not her parents, not her friends and not my father. No one knew I existed.
What's with the secrecy? What's with the blurry face and coded names? Well, I'm still a secret, a 50 year old secret and XXX still does not want to tell her family that I exist.