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Long Lost Family viewers say it’s ‘cruel’ Covid-19 restrictions prevent mother and son from hugging

Long Lost Family viewers said it was ‘cruel and inhuman’ that a woman who was reunited with her first-born son after she was forced to give him up as a teenager wasn’t able to share a hug with him due to Covid-19.

Retired nurse Julie Johnson, 59, from Lancashire, appeared on ITV’s Long Lost Family on Monday after searching for her child Steven, who she gave away after falling pregnant aged just 14. 

Researchers discovered Julie’s son was now called Ian Pitt, based in Staffordshire, but the pair had to wait six months before reuniting due to lockdown and Julie’s private health problems in hospital, which left her unable to even talk on the phone.

But eventually Ian was able to enjoy a socially-distanced visit with his birth mother, who admitted: ‘It’ll be hard not to be able to give him a hug because I’ll instantly want to give him a hug. But I won’t be able to. I might have a few tears.’ 

However, it was a bittersweet moment for viewers too, who were left upset that Covid-19 restrictions had ruined such a longed for moment.

‘An adopted son meets his mother and sisters for the first time…and they can’t hug (on camera anyway) because of social distancing. Cruel, inhuman and insane,’ wrote one, while a second agreed: ‘Is pretty pants with lockdown and social distancing. Not being able to give your mum a hug…just torture. Hope they’ve managed to get plenty in now and bubbled up.’

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Retired nurse Julie Johnson (pictured with her son, who is now called Ian), 59, from Lancashire, appeared on ITV’s Long Lost Family on Monday after searching for her child Steven, who she gave away after falling pregnant aged just 14. However, viewers branded it ‘cruel’ that the pair weren’t able to share a hug due to Covid-19 (pictured)

Taking to social media, one viewer penned: 'An adopted son meets his mother and sisters for the first time...and they can't hug (on camera anyway) because of social distancing. Cruel, inhuman and insane' (pictured)

Taking to social media, one viewer penned: ‘An adopted son meets his mother and sisters for the first time…and they can’t hug (on camera anyway) because of social distancing. Cruel, inhuman and insane’ (pictured)

Grandmother Julie met her first love, Steven’s father, at school when she was just fourteen and hid her pregnancy for five months before it was discovered. 

Remembering her family’s reactions, Julie said: ‘Instantly [it was] “you’re too young, you’re a child, it’s better for you if the baby’s adopted”. I wasn’t given a choice.’

Julie gave birth to Steven on 2nd of May 1977 and was told not to hold him or see him, but ignored the suggestions and instead bathed him and comforted him for the first and last time.

She said: ‘I was told I couldn’t see Steven, but I gave him a hug and told him I loved him. Forgiveness, that’s what I pray for, to take a little bit of the guilt away for not being able to be his mum.’

Researchers discover Julie's son is now called Ian Pitt, based in Staffordshire, but the pair have to wait six months before reuniting due to lockdown. Pictured, Julie as a teenager

Researchers discover Julie’s son is now called Ian Pitt, based in Staffordshire, but the pair have to wait six months before reuniting due to lockdown. Pictured, Julie as a teenager

After Steven’s adoption, Julie and his father stayed together and went on to get married before have three more children. 

But Julie insisted she thought of Steven each time one of her other children hit a milestone. 

The grandmother said: ‘I thought of Steven when I saw them smile for the first time and their first steps. I never saw my first son grow up and reach all those milestones.’

Julie and her husband drifted apart and divorced after fifteen years together. During that time, Steven was a secret that Julie kept from her other children, fearing they’d judge her.

The terrified mother recalled: ‘I thought they would think I’m a bad person.’ 

But the children had heard a rumour of another child and when she was a teenager, Julie’s daughter Sophie confronted her mother about Steven. 

‘I remember saying, if you ever want to find him, we’ll back you one-hundred percent,’ Sophie recalled, while Julie admitted: ‘None of the children have held it against me. It’s all in the open and that is lovely.’

Over the last fourteen years the family told how they had contacted adoption agencies and even completed DNA tests in the hope it would lead them to Steven, but in the last year their search took on a new urgency when Sophie was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. 

In normal circumstances, the pair would've been reunited as soon as possible, but just days after Julie learnt her son had been found, the UK's first coronavirus lockdown began, meaning visit with one another had to be put on hold. Pictured, having a socially-distanced reunion on the show

In normal circumstances, the pair would’ve been reunited as soon as possible, but just days after Julie learnt her son had been found, the UK’s first coronavirus lockdown began, meaning visit with one another had to be put on hold. Pictured, having a socially-distanced reunion on the show  

During lockdown, Julie became poorly and any contact, even on the phone, was also not possible. However, she was determined not to miss another of her son's birthdays. Pictured, her son with a card

During lockdown, Julie became poorly and any contact, even on the phone, was also not possible. However, she was determined not to miss another of her son’s birthdays. Pictured, her son with a card

Julie sent Ian a card, the first which she can give him in forty-three years (pictured)

Julie sent Ian a card, the first which she can give him in forty-three years (pictured)

Taking to Twitter, one person penned: 'I think this might be my favourite series of #LongLostFamily, it¿s been heartbreaking, but also heartwarming and beautiful. Such wonderful stories and reunions Red heart There aren¿t enough tissues in my house for this!!'

Taking to Twitter, one person penned: ‘I think this might be my favourite series of #LongLostFamily, it’s been heartbreaking, but also heartwarming and beautiful. Such wonderful stories and reunions Red heart There aren’t enough tissues in my house for this!!’

‘When I got my diagnosis, we realised we might not have tomorrow, so we have to find him now,’ said Sophie, who has thankfully now been told her cancer is in remission. 

With nowhere else to turn, the household approached Long Lost Family who enlisted the help of a specialist legally allowed to access adoption records.

Julie’s son’s new name was discovered to be Ian Pitt, who was adopted by a couple from Staffordshire and still lived in the area with his wife Siobhan and close to his two children from his first marriage.

Ian agreed to meet co-presenter Nicky Campbell and told him: ‘I’m over the moon that she’s come looking… to find out that I have got siblings… unbelievable.’

Co-presenter Davina McCall visited Julie who told her about giving-up her first-born. 

She said: ‘I’m so glad I had that little bit of time, but I never saw him smile, never gave him a nursery rhyme, or saw his first birthday. I just hoped he was well looked after.’ 

Davina revealed that thankfully this was the case to an emotional Julie who said: ‘[I] never thought this day would come. I feel so lucky.’

Julie (pictured) broke down in tears as she recalled how she had little choice but to give her son up for adoption

Julie (pictured) broke down in tears as she recalled how she had little choice but to give her son up for adoption

But eventually Ian was able to enjoy a socially-distanced visit with his birth mother (pictured), who admitted: 'It'll be hard not to be able to give him a hug because I'll instantly want to give him a hug. But I won't be able to. I might have a few tears.'

But eventually Ian was able to enjoy a socially-distanced visit with his birth mother (pictured), who admitted: ‘It’ll be hard not to be able to give him a hug because I’ll instantly want to give him a hug. But I won’t be able to. I might have a few tears.’

told

In the show, Ian (pictured) agreed to meet co-presenter Nicky Campbell and told him: ‘I’m over the moon that she’s come looking… to find out that I have got siblings… unbelievable.’

In normal circumstances, the pair would’ve been reunited as soon as possible, but just days after Julie learnt her son had been found, the UK’s first coronavirus lockdown began, meaning visit with one another had to be put on hold. 

Sadly, during this time, Julie became poorly and any contact, even on the phone, was also not possible. 

However, she was determined not to miss another of her son’s birthdays and so Julie sent Ian a card, the first which she can give him in forty-three years.

Six months later, with the first lockdown lifted and Julie feeling better, mother and son finally met in a tear-filled reunion.

Ian said: ‘I’m hoping this brings some kind of closure to the concerns which she’s had over the years,’ while Julie confirms this, adding: ‘I now know I can go to bed and I don’t need to worry. I can be happy. I feel it’s complete now.’

Afterwards Ian met his sisters, Emma and Sophie, who admitted: ‘It’s hard work that we can’t just come over and grab you,’ while he declares: ‘I have a whole new family to get to know and enjoy and be part of each other’s lives.’

And many who tuned in were quick to take to Twitter to express their sadness that the mother and son were not able to reunite as soon as they had found each other. 

‘I think this might be my favourite series of #LongLostFamily, it’s been heartbreaking, but also heartwarming and beautiful. Such wonderful stories and reunions. There aren’t enough tissues in my house for this!!’ commented one.

A second penned: ‘Covid-19…ruining family reunions since 2020,’ while a third added: ‘Lockdown was miserable enough but has reached a new low wrecking the reunions in #LongLostFamily.’  

Long Lost Family airs on ITV on Monday 9pm 


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