My Grandfather’s Adoption

My Grandfather George, was born in 1919 at 77 Bridport Rd, a former Workhouse turned Military Hospital in Edmonton, London, seven months after the end of World War I.

His mother, Eva-Rose had been serving with the British Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps as a cook and nurse. She had met George’s father, an Australian soldier, the previous year whilst working at one of the War Rest Camp’s, most likely Folkestone Rest Camp, where soldiers would stay after fighting in France.

She later mentioned that she was engaged to the man who she knew as Jack Scott and that he lived in a rural area of eastern Australia.

George was named after his maternal grandfather who was not happy about the situation and it was a particularly stressful time for the family having also just lost his wife and the children’s mother, Sarah, who had recently died from tuberculosis only a few weeks earlier, leaving father George with six children under 18 and four others of adult age.

Baby George approx 1920

Baby George approx 1920

Despite the events, baby George was a happy child who loved to play with his toys and would often push them over and laugh.

Eva-Rose tried to get in touch with her fiancé Jack who she had not heard from.  She wrote to the Army to find his whereabouts but was told that he had been killed in action while fighting in the War. Apparently though, this story was told to many new mothers searching for the men they had met during the War.

She stayed with her brother and his family after she had George and her sister-in-law would look after him while Eva-Rose went out and worked to support the two of them. But eventually, after nine months Eva-Rose came home one day to find her father, who had come down from Yarmouth up north, and her brother both standing at the kitchen table where an adoption document and pen were waiting for her. They argued but was soon forced by her family to put baby George up for adoption.

George was sent to an orphanage in Wales. He was there for six months and became quite a favourite with the nuns who ran the place. Finally, George was adopted by a childless couple, John & Eliza, who were from Birmingham. John was stationed with the Army in Gibraltar and Eliza wanted a baby to keep her company.
When he left the orphanage, George was given two parting gifts by the nuns, a hand-sewn bib and a small ceramic plate with a painted Welsh St George Dragon on it, which he still has to this day.

Meanwhile, Eva-Rose tried to stay in contact, wanting to know how George was progressing but Eliza eventually said that he could only have one mother and so contact was ceased. Eva-Rose was under the impression that George was now in Dorset and every time she visited the town, she’d look at all the children hoping to see George’s face.

Three months later, the family moved to Western Australia as part of a Government Group Settlement Scheme. They first settled in an outback town called Meekatharra but found the heat completely unbearable and so then moved south of Perth to Mundijong on Government issued land. Heavy restrictions and lack of farming experience in settlers saw this particular scheme fail miserably and eventually the family had to walk off the land and move to Perth.

A few years later, Eliza & John had three of their own children, Marie, Lyla and John.
At the age of 14, George left home to head back to Meekatharra to work on the sheepstation where two of Eliza’s brothers worked.

At age 21 he enlisted in the Australian Army and was sent to Darwin as a Gunner in the 2nd Anti-Aircraft Battery, being present at the Darwin Air Raid in 1942.  After being discharged he settled back in Perth, and became a woolclasser.

He met his future wife, Judy at a mutual friend’s wedding and married her in 1949. They went on to have four children, 3 sons & 1 daughter.

In 1985, curious George decided to search for his birth parents. He wanted to know how and why he had been put up for adoption. They were able to find out his mothers name from his birth certificate but a name for his father was not entered.

Initial enquiries led them to Lowestoft in Suffolk and so a letter was written to a local newspaper there which ran a request for anyone who knew Eva-Rose to contact them.

The article in the newspaper was seen and Eva-Rose wrote a letter to George & Judy, not knowing the reason for their request. When the letter was received, their daughter Diane was with them. George set about writing a reply letter but Diane said “don’t be silly, we’ll just ring her!”

She got on the phone and when Eva-Rose answered she clarified it was the person they were looking for and then mentioned who was looking for her, citing his birth name and birth date.

“That’s my George!” said Eva-Rose.

Diane handed the phone to him and his first words to his mother, who he had not had contact with in over 65 years were, “Long time no see…”
Tears ensued…

Eva-Rose was very happy to hear from him and said that not a day had passed where she hadn’t thought of him. Although she had kept it all a secret from her husband, who she had married a few years after the adoption, and their children. She later said that on the day the adoption papers were signed, not another word was ever spoken about it within the family.

Arrangements were made for George & Judy to go over to the UK to visit.
In June 1986, they travelled to London and caught the train up to Norwich. George’s half-sister, Eva-Rose’s daughter Pauline and her husband Billy met them at the train station, recognizing them instantly. There was a big hug between brother & sister, meeting for the first time.

George, sister Mary, mother Eva-Rose & sister Pauline, Lowestoft

They drove to Lowestoft and then George was finally reunited with his Mum. They carefully looked at each other and then gave each other a big hug and kiss. With George staying at Pauline’s house, Eva-Rose, who usually only visited Pauline on Mondays, would come over to visit every single day, each time giving a kiss hello and goodbye. Pauline mentioned that she never kissed the girls.

Judy commented that George and his sister Mary “were like bookends” and that he was also like his other sister Wynnie who she said was tall like their daughter Diane.

Judy had also mentioned that Pauline said that “Eva-Rose told me not to leave her alone with George as she wouldn’t know what to say”, but as Pauline says “listen to her chatting away…”, she seemed quite at ease with the both of them.

There were many get-togethers while they visited and they met the entire extended family.
When it was time to leave, Eva-Rose was a bit teary. George gave her a brooch as a gift which she apparently wore all the time after.

Some of the family came out to Australia on various occasions to meet the Australian side and letters, photos and videos were often sent back and forth. But it was the first and last time George would see his mother as she died in 1991 at the age of 92 years.

Attempts were made to identify George’s biological father, but at this point we only have assumptions. DNA tests have been performed and show that his father’s paternal line is strongly linked to the Donegal/Ulster area of Northern Ireland. The surname Scott also  has a high prevalence in his area.

Hopefully future DNA links may provide a more detailed answer.

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7 thoughts on “My Grandfather’s Adoption

  1. Shelley, what a touching story! Hopefully, the progress in DNA research will one day result in your unlocking some of those secrets for your grandfather.

    I found your blog today, thanks to GeneaBloggers. It has been a pleasure spending some time here, reading. I look forward to following your future posts.

    • Thanks Jacqi, if I’m successful with the DNA search, I’ll be writing about it on here for sure!
      I look forward to reading your blog, there’s so many posts for me to read!

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