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70 years apart: The Christmas gift that found my mum

A unique festive gift led to a beautiful reunion

Lynne Wray, 71, always hoped she’d meet her biological mum.

Here, she shares her story in her own words.

Checking my messages, I saw a name I didn’t recognise.

We have very similar DNA, Wanda LeBlanc had written.

The next part changed my life.

You are possibly my aunt, it said.

At that, I froze in shock.

Could this really be someone from my biological family? I wondered.

I had taken the 23andMe test four years earlier to find out my health history.

There was a thought in the back of my mind that I might find relatives too.

But I had to push that idea to one side to spare myself from any heartache.

In 1948, my mother, then 20, had made the brave decision to place me with a loving adoptive family.

If she was still alive, she’d be in her late 80s or 90s.

I knew it was most likely she had died.

Wanda’s message left me unusually hopeful though.

From day one, my parents, Edith and Bruce, had been honest about my adoption.

‘It makes you extra special,’ they told me.

At the time, state rules meant that very little information was recorded.

So, the lady who’d given me up for a better life was a mystery to me.

I didn’t even know her name.

For the most part, I didn’t mind at all. I had a very happy childhood, raised with seven younger siblings.

In my 20s, I started looking for my birth mum but then stopped.

Four decades later, I began to fill out a form to find out more about her.

But the further through it I got, the more emotional I became and I couldn’t continue with it.

My biggest fear was rejection.

Lynne Wray's mum Elizabeth Pullen
My mother as a young woman (Credit: T&T Creative Media)

What if she didn’t want to know me? I worried.

My adoptive mum was always incredibly supportive.

‘I hope you meet her someday,’ she would say.
‘I would love to thank her for the gift she gave us… you,’ she’d add.

I replied to Wanda with my phone number and when she called, I was overwhelmed.

‘You’re the first family member I’ve ever spoken to,’ I wept.

At this point, even she didn’t know who in her family my mother was.

Wanda told me her mum had given her children and their husbands DNA tests for Christmas.

‘It was supposed to be a bit of fun,’ Wanda said.

They planned to have a reveal party and cook food from the countries their ancestors were from.

But they had also discovered me!

Exchanging photos online, I saw we had the same cheekbones, nose, eyes and skin tone.

Soon after, I received another call.

‘This is your mum speaking,’ said a voice I never expected to hear.

Her name was Elizabeth Pullen and she was 90.

Much of our conversation was a blur, I was just so amazed she was still alive.

My husband Floyd, 77,and I looked into flights immediately.

Wanda had arranged for us to meet at a beautiful park where a photographer could capture our first meeting.

Standing back to back, we awaited the instruction to turn around.

Forbidden from seeing me when I was born, Mum had waited 70 years for this.

‘Give me your hand,’ I said, clutching my mum’s palm.

‘Okay, turn around,’ Wanda yelled.

‘Ahhhhh!’ my mother exclaimed.

She had the same curly blonde hair as me.

‘I love you,’ we both said, as we embraced for the
very first time.

‘You’re beautiful,’ she told me.

Wanda's daughter Emma, Wanda, Mum and me
Wanda’s daughter Emma. Wanda, Mum and me (Credit: T&T Creative Media)

Holding me tight, Mum ran her fingers through my hair.

‘Worth the wait, right?’ I said.

I stayed with her for the week and we never stopped talking.

I learnt that she was 20 when she’d had me and she and my father felt it wasn’t the right time to raise a child.

They went on to have six more children together, but sadly my biological dad had passed away.

‘I knew I would find you,’ Mum told me.

I also met my sister Kat and we had an instant connection. Saying goodbye later, I was sad to leave them. But back home, I spoke to Mum on the phone several times a week, discovering things we had in common.

I’ve never been able to tell my left from my right and Mum told me she can’t either.

I nearly died laughing.

‘I thought I was the only one,’ I chuckled.

I never realised before but there was a part of me that was missing.

Since meeting my birth family I feel more at peace.

For them, it all started as a unique Christmas present but for me it was so much more.

There’s a lot more love in my life now.

That’s the greatest gift I could have wished for.

Wanda, 36, says:

When we opened the gift, I remember my mum telling us, ‘This is going to be the gift that keeps on giving.’

I don’t think she realised how much it would change our lives.

I am so happy to have Lynne in our lives and look forward to our families making more memories in the future.

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