A new start after 60: ‘There she was – my actual mother. “You took your time!” she said’

Gerald Mahood always knew he was adopted and for decades accepted he would never meet his biological mother. Then he found a clue to his past on a piece of paper kept in a wardrobe

Gerald Mahood was 60 when he discovered that this was his real name. He always knew he was adopted. “A bastard!” as his adoptive mother explained when he was four. He was born in Northern Ireland in the 1950s and like many babies whose mothers were not married at the time, he entered the world as a secret. The midwives – nuns – placed an advert in the Belfast Chronicle. “Home for an unwanted child, sort of thing,” he says.

The only comment the social worker’s report made about his adoptive parents was that their house was clean. His birth mother has said that she “handed me to them, and then they drove off with me,” Mahood says, though he is still unsure about his first few years, and he may have been placed with another family first. At around three, he moved from Northern Ireland to south-west England.

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