It became quite clear to me that I would be moving back to New Zealand. It was all set in my mind, go home to Qld, Australia, sell whatever I could, pack up everything and head to Palmy! Mum had decided she wasn't being left behind, she was coming along for the adventure. Then just before we were to fly out, I received a message.
It was on a private, fb messenger, someone wanting to know about Helen Lynette Ludwig and her possible connection to this person's husband. Now I was the skeptical one with all the questions. Who wants to know? Why do you want to know? What's his name? Date of birth? I was being like XXX with all the defensive questions.
I had known that mum had a child when she was young, back in the day when it was scandalous to have a baby out of wedlock. Mum grew up on a farm in Kaikohe, with one older sister and two brothers. Her dad loved farm life, but her mum hated it and roamed around the country, staying away from home as much as possible. She took her eldest daughter with her on overseas trips, but mum was left at home with the boys. She was too boisterous for lady tea parties and too out spoken for fine society.
So on a day when her mother decided to grace the family with one of her visits home, mum being a developing teenager asked her mother, what was sex? Her mother hit her so hard across the face, that she fell to the floor, 'don't ever mention that again', was her only reply.
So mum's older brother decided it was his responsibility to teach his younger sister about the ways of the world. He enlisted the help of a willing friend, who educated the naive seventeen year old all about the birds and the bees. Then a few months later, when mum found out she was pregnant, her mother threw her out of the house, saying she had disgraced the family.
Her dad found a Catholic family who would take her, in exchange for house keeping duties and when it was time to deliver the baby, she would have no choice but to adopt the child out. Mum gave birth to a son on the 2nd December 1959 and the hospital called him John. She was not allowed to hold him, or even see him, the nurses snatched him away as soon as he was born. It was her one regret, that she couldn't hold him, just once.
So I knew of him as John Ludwig. Later in life mum tried to find him, going on the register and trying to track him down, but she had no success. Then on this night, just before we were to head back to Australia, the message came through, someone named Gavin Pope, who had been born John Ludwig was trying to find Helen Ludwig.
After many messages back and forth, confirming all possible information, I was sure, this was him, mum's first born son. He had found us through the same process that I had found my birth family and at the same time.
Clair (Gavin's wife), sent away for his pre-adoption birth certificate (just like Alison) and found mum's name. She Googled that and found mum & dad's wedding announcement in the Tokoroa Times. Then she searched and found my dad's death notice, which gave her the names of the surviving children, (just like we did!). Then she facebooked and found me (I'm pretty easy to find on Facebook).
So here they were, reaching out. Gavin was terrified, scared for what he would find, acceptance or rejection? My response was, 'It's alright bro, I have been on both sides of this fence'. I know what it is to look for answers and I know what it feels like to be found!
A few days later we were siting at a restaurant talking, laughing and crying. It really was quite amazing to see how much like mum's side of the family he is, 'Sorry about it bro, but you have her nose!'. He even sounds like mum's brother (such a Ludwig, was all I could say). It was an amazing moment of reconnection as mother and son embraced, and I am so grateful it has happened for them both.
It makes me wonder about what makes a family? For me, it is both blood and choice. Mum adopted me at 9 days old. We are not blood related, but we are so alike and she loves me like her own flesh. Now here is Gavin, mum’s first born son, my brother to my adopted mother and he calls me his ‘little sis’, we are family by choice. Gavin is eight years older than me, in fact we share the same birthday, the 2nd December. We are so grateful that he found us, and introduced us to his beautiful family. This amazing story of reconciliation, family and destiny, just keeps unfolding!