A mother who was forced to give her baby up aged 15 has been reunited with her 50 years later on tonight’s Long Lost Family – and is stunned to discover her daughter’s been following her life on Facebook for the past three years.
Pauline Pedder, 65, grew up with her parents and eight siblings in the market town of Huddersfield, and it was there, whilst attending secondary school, she discovered she was pregnant.
Soon her parents were aware of her situation and sent her to a mother and baby home, having decided that the little one would be adopted – despite Pauline’s older sister, Carol, offering to care for the child.
Now, Pauline lives four miles away from where she grew up, with her husband and close to her four grown-up children, but she’s been longing to find her firstborn Louise.
Long Lost Family, which airs at 9pm on ITV, eventually found Louise, now Carol Whitehead, who was adopted by a local family, and she admitted she’d discovered her birth mother three years ago on social media.
She told co-presenter Nicky Campbell how she’s been following Pauline’s life on Facebook, after learning her name from her adoption papers, but feared revealing her existence in case of rejection.
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Pauline Pedder, 65, grew up with her parents and eight siblings in the market town of Huddersfield, and it was there, whilst attending secondary school, she discovered she was pregnant. Pictured, Pauline reunited with her firstborn Carol
Speaking about her first pregnancy, Pauline says: ‘I could feel the baby growing and the movement. It was so scary.’
Unable to confess to her parents, Pauline confided in two close friends who spoke to their form teacher and eventually the head teacher found out.
He wrote a letter for Pauline to give to her parents, expelling her from school. But Pauline never gave the note to her family and instead pretended to go to school while hiding at her boyfriend’s house.
Pauline admits: ‘I was just shoving it under the carpet hoping it would go away.’
Eventually, the terrified teenager had to return home where she was confronted by her father, who had heard rumours that one of his daughters was pregnant.
Soon her parents were aware of her situation and sent her to a mother and baby home, having decided that the little one would be adopted. Pictured, Pauline as a young girl
Pauline recalls: ‘He said: “There’s talk around the neighbourhood that I’ve got a daughter’s who’s pregnant and saying that it’s you.”
‘I just wanted the floor to open up and swallow me. He said: “If you are having a baby let me tell you, you won’t be bringing the baby home here.” Coming from a big family, the decision was always made for you. It was always out of my control.’
Her parents arranged for her to go to a mother and baby home and decided the child would be adopted despite Pauline’s older sister, Carol, offering to raise the little one.
Carol vividly remembers their father’s reaction; he said: ‘You are not taking in that child… if you do, that’s it, I’ve lost you and Pauline as daughters.’
Pauline has never forgotten the four weeks which she spent with her daughter, who she called Louise, and says, looking at a photo taken during her pregnancy: ‘I wish I could have warned myself of all the hurt that was going to come, but I love that picture, because to me it shows that she existed.’
An emotional Pauline adds: ‘[My baby] was beautiful, very pretty. My parents came to see me, dad stayed downstairs, mum came up to the nursery.
‘So I asked her if she wanted to hold her and she did. I asked her to have a word with dad but she said “We can’t bring her home.”‘
Now, Pauline (pictured) lives four miles away from where she grew up, with her husband and close to her four grown-up children, but she’s been longing to find her firstborn Louise. Long Lost Family eventually found Louise, now Carol Whitehead, who was adopted by a local family, and she admitted she’d discovered her birth mother three years ago on social media
Overcome with emotion, Pauline explains: ‘It’s remembering all those emotions. I just wanted a fairytale ending. Many times I just cried and cried under the bed covers so nobody heard. I wouldn’t wish those feelings on anyone. I just want to find my baby.’
The Long Lost Family team discovered that Louise’s name had been changed to Carol Whitehead and that, unusually, a local family had adopted her and that she was still living just a couple of miles from the house where Pauline grew up.
Nicky meets with Carol, who works as a cook at an adult day centre and lives with her partner, Rohan. He learns that Carol has always known that she was adopted.
She tells Nicky that she learnt her birth mother’s name through obtaining her adoption papers when she was eighteen but first began searching for Pauline three years ago.
‘I’ve always known I’ve been adopted, my mum just said I was special because I was adopted’ recalls Carol. ‘My parents were good to me, my mum was one in a million but my mum passed away 15 years ago.
She told co-presenter Nicky Campbell how she’s been following Pauline’s life on Facebook, after learning her name from her adoption papers, but feared revealing her existence in case of rejection. Pictured, Pauline, aged 15
‘All I know really is that my birth mother was made to give me away because she was young so I’ve always understood.
‘When I was 18 I got my adoption papers with her name, and my parents found out and my mum started crying so I stopped looking – up until three years ago,’ she adds.
Carol reveals she asked a friend to look for her birth mother, who soon found her on Facebook.
But while Carol’s partner encouraged her to make contact with Pauline, she admits she feared being rejected.
Recalling the moment she saw her mother on the social media platform, she says: ‘I thought “I look so much like her”. It was just unbelievable. There was no doubt in my mind that she was definitely my mother so I’ve kind of secretly, for the last three years, looked at her on Facebook.
‘But not contacted her, because she’s got other family members and I thought to myself, “what if she hasn’t told anybody about me?” Then I just come along and upset the apple cart.
Speaking about her first pregnancy, Pauline says: ‘I could feel the baby growing and the movement. It was so scary.’ Pictured, presenters Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell
‘I’ve always wanted to contact her but not dared, it’s the fear of rejection,’ Carol, who has a picture of her birth mother on her phone, says.
Davina visits Pauline to tell her that her daughter has been found. Pauline is astounded to learn that her daughter has been following her life on Facebook over the last three years.
She is also overjoyed that Carol coincidently shares the same name as the sister who tried to help Pauline keep her baby all those years ago. A tearful Pauline says: ‘They’re happy tears… I’m just so pleased that she wants to meet me!’
A week later Pauline meets her daughter Carol for the first time in fifty years at a cafe half-way between their homes.
Finally, she can tell Carol that she was never a secret and has always been part of the family. Pauline gives her daughter a bracelet symbolising her five children.
Carol says: ‘I’m just happy that I finally met her after all these years.’ And Pauline concludes it’s a ‘happy ending. Now I feel my life is complete.’
Episode Two of Long Lost Family airs on ITV on Monday 25 January, 9pm