Reunited: siblings torn apart as children meet in a Dagenham pub
PUBLISHED: 12:25 15 October 2014 | UPDATED: 12:25 15 October 2014
Adopted siblings who were separated at birth met up for the first time on Saturday after decades apart.
Gill Lepage, 61, of Canonsleigh Street in Dagenham, grew up believing she was an only child, and was shocked to discover brothers and sisters she never knew existed.
Gill was put into foster care as a child and knew nothing about her family.
At age 21 she found she had a brother, John Lepage, who lived in Yarmouth, by pushing her childrens’ officers for information, and six years ago she learnt of another brother, Paul, whose adopted name is Mick Hurley, after her daughter did some research online.
But in December Gill was contacted by a Sharon Lepage, who lives in Dagenham, with news of more siblings, bringing the total number to eight.
“It’s blown me out of the water,” said Gill. “All this time I’ve got only two brothers, and now I’ve got four sisters and another brother. It’s a lot to take in.”
Six of the long-lost siblings, aged 52 to 70, met at the Eastbrook pub in Dagenham Road – the first time they were all together.
“I have always wanted to know about my family,” said Gill. “It’s like a big jigsaw, trying to put all the pieces together. It’s like you’ve missed half your life.”
Gill said in her 20s she was told her files had all been burned, but recently Chelmsford County Council found letters from her children’s officer and foster parents which add pieces to the puzzle.
“At one time, Paul, John and me lived near each other when we were little,” she said.
“I was quite angry at first but I’m coming to terms with it, because what’s done is done.
“But it’s upsetting, because we could have grown up together.”
She also learnt her mother lived in London until she died of cancer in 1997.
Gill said having a drink with John, Mick, Sharon, Annette and Rita was tense at first, but helped her learn about her mother’s early life.
“You don’t know these people that you’ve never met before, but they’re part of you,” she said.
“John said, ‘I hope mum’s looking down and happy that six of us are together’.”
Gill added: “We’ve all coped in our own way I suppose.
“And now we’ve been in touch with each other we’re going to try and keep meeting up at least once a year and keep making happy memories along the way.”
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