REAL LIFE

Abandoned in a shopping bag

How this little girl finally found her mum is incredible
Me as a baby and at age six

Michelle Rooney, 46, was found abandoned and clinging to life as a baby. Here she and Angie, the mother who left her there, come together to share the story of an emotional family reunion

Michelle says:

As I gazed at the photo, I was transfixed by the woman’s kind face.


With a warm smile and beautiful eyes, she seemed so familiar.

I couldn’t believe it was actually her.


I’d finally found the missing part of my family puzzle.


Growing up, I always knew I was adopted.


I had an idyllic life with my loving parents, Daphne and Les, but when I was 21, they revealed a shocking secret.


‘Look at these,’ Mum said gently, handing me some old newspaper cuttings.


The headline jumped out at me as I stared at a familiar black-and-white photo of a baby girl in a hospital crib.


That baby was me!


It turned out I’d been abandoned in a plastic bag soon after my birth in November 1968.


My birth mum had left me in the lobby of a block of apartments in East London, England.


According to the reports, a man who saw the bag thought it was rubbish and put me out with the bins behind the building.

I was found clinging to life the next day.


Despite newspaper appeals at the time, my birth mum never came forward.


I adored my adoptive family, but I was always curious about the mum who’d abandoned me.

Me as a baby and at age six

I never hated her, I just wanted to find her, especially after I had my own children, Oliver, now 15, and Connor, 12.

My search for my birth mum never ceased.


I even joined genealogy websites where my DNA was recorded and matched against millions of other members worldwide.


Last year this led to a breakthrough when I was matched with a first cousin on my paternal side.


She’d joined the website to research her family tree and this gave me a direct link to my birth father, John Good, then 83.


John, a retired milkman, was shocked to hear from me.


He had never known about me, but he and his daughter Elaine, 58, warmly welcomed me into the family.


‘Hello lovely daughter,’ he smiled when we met.

But John didn’t know who my birth mum was.


He’d had many girlfriends but none had ever told him they were pregnant.

When I found Dad, he didn’t know who my birth mum was

‘We’ll keep looking for her,’ he encouraged me.


That’s when we shared the story of our reunion with that’s life!, hoping my birth mum might spot it somehow.


Sadly, John died of cancer in July 2014, just a few months after we met.

  

I was devastated, but was grateful for the love he’d shown me.


Determined to keep searching, I continued sharing my story.

Then in February last year, I got the surprise of my life when an email arrived.


I read your story and I’m certain that I’m your mother, it read.


I went into shock as the most astonishing confession tumbled out.

The most astonishing confession tumbled out

As tears streamed down my cheeks, I opened the photo attached to the message.


There was a smiling face that looked just like my own.


After 46 years, I knew I’d finally found my mother…

Me with my boys

I prayed every day she was happy

Michelle’s mum, Angie Smith

Angie says:

My heart pounded as I read Michelle’s story.

  

I knew immediately that I had to find her.

Shaking with emotion, I began to write my life-changing confession.


While I might look like an ordinary grandmother, for 46 years I’d kept a shocking secret – that I abandoned my own baby daughter.


The last time I’d looked into her deep brown eyes was the day she was born in 1968.


I’d given birth to her alone in my dad’s garden shed, cutting her umbilical cord with kitchen scissors.


Afterwards, I hid her in a bedroom before smuggling her out in a bag.


‘I’m just going to the laundrette,’ I told my mum.


I knew my parents would be furious if they found out I was pregnant after a casual fling with John, then 38.


The past few years had already been turbulent.


At just 18, I’d married a 33-year-old man.


While our union ended three years later, I was left with two little boys, Chris and Tim, and moved back in with my parents.


‘If you bring shame on this family again I will have you declared an unfit mother,’ Mum warned.


So when I fell pregnant, I had to choose between the two sons I already loved and the baby I hadn’t met.

I’d wrapped her in a blanket and a plastic bag to keep her warm before picking an apartment block.

Angie at 17

I hoped desperately that someone would adopt my sweet girl and love her.


Just a few hours after giving birth, I was looking for a place to leave my baby.


I’d wrapped her in a blanket and a plastic bag to keep her warm before picking an apartment block.


I hoped she’d be found quickly.

  

I was devastated when I later saw the headlines and read of her ordeal.

Though I cried endless tears in private, I had to pretend nothing ever happened.


I hoped my daughter would have a better life than the one I could’ve given her and I prayed every day that she was happy.


But I never told John.


I soon went to college and met my second husband, Reg.


I was thrilled when our son, Martin, arrived six years later.


As I held him in my arms, it felt bittersweet. ‘This is one I can keep,’ I thought, but I never forgot my little girl.


As decades passed, I thought about my daughter constantly.

Even if I found her, I didn’t think she’d want to know me.

So I was stunned to read a news story about Michelle finding her father.

‘I’m so sorry for what I did to you,’ I stammered, fighting back tears.

By then, my beloved Reg had passed away.


I just knew I had to get in touch with my lost daughter.


Within hours of sending my email, Michelle and I were chatting nervously on the phone.

‘I’m so sorry for what I did to you,’ I stammered, fighting back tears.


But Michelle forgave me.


‘I’m just so happy we found each other,’ she said.


Over the next few weeks we had daily contact and a DNA test confirmed that Michelle was my daughter.


Eventually, I plucked up the courage to confess my secret to my sons.


While they were stunned, their hearts reached out to me and their long-lost sister.


Finally, we all met.

I gasped as I saw Michelle.

  

Her tight curly hair was just like mine had been.

Her smile, her chin – all our features were so alike.


As she held out her arms, waves of emotion swept over us and we hugged.


‘I’ve dreamt of this moment for so long,’ I told her.


I was bursting with pride that this lovely woman was my daughter.

Since then, our relationship has gone from strength to strength.


I will always feel guilty about abandoning my baby.

But I no longer have to keep my heartbreaking secret.

Angie and Michelle, reunited

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