A FAMILY is facing a race against time to reunite a terminally ill mother with the son she has not seen since the day he was born – nearly 50 years ago.
Carol Ann White, 69, was forced to give up her only child, Kenneth, in the labour ward just hours after his birth because authorities believed she was too ill to look after him. Carol, who suffers from learning difficulties, still fondly remembers the one cuddle they shared and feeding her son for the first time at the hospital in Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire, in 1967.
The infant was then taken into care and brought up in Edinburgh.
Some 20 years later, Kenneth tried to track his mother down at her home but was turned away by relatives caring for Carol amid fears that she would be unable to cope. Since then, the family has spent years trying to trace “Kenny” but has never seen him since.
The search hit a dead-end following a string of calls to councils and charities who have struggled to locate records or were thwarted by data protection issues.
Social media appeals have also drawn a blank. It is feared Carol may have only months to live. Today, the family spoke to the News as they step up efforts to find Kenny and fulfil Carol’s dream of seeing her son again – before it is too late. Niece Ruth McClaren, who at 47 is the same age as her cousin she is trying to trace, said she desperately hoped a News reader would recognise Kenny’s picture and help reunite mother and son.
“Time is not on our side, we need to try and find him as soon as possible,” she said.
“She’s only got the one son and never stopped thinking about him. He needs to know that he’s got family and that his mother always loved him.
“She has wanted to see her son for a long time, none of this was her fault and she’s been asking for him for years.”
And she added: “We just hope someone sees this who knows him, maybe someone who fostered him who can tell us a few bits and pieces.
“Somebody somewhere must know him, which schools he went to or anything.
“We want him to get to know a bit about his mother and for her to see him again.”
One of eight sisters and a brother, only three of Carol’s siblings are still alive with some of the few details known about Kenny vanishing with them.
Living relatives believe he was placed in a children’s home in Falkirk before moving to the Capital in early childhood.
It is not fully understood whether Kenny was partly raised in one of the city’s boys’ homes – many have since been demolished – before being placed with families.
Ruth’s mother Gladys Mosettig, who urged her to reignite the search for Kenny before she died two years ago, said she believed he was fostered in Edinburgh and had lived in Wester Hailes.
But they have hit a stalemate after trawling though library records and the electoral register.
“We know he could be anywhere in the world but we’ve got to keep trying,” said Ruth.
“I love Carol to bits and I just want something nice in her life before it ends. She wants to see him, I’d do anything to find him.
Carol suffered a head injury in childhood following an accident with a swing that left her with brain damage. She was diagnosed with a terminal illness four weeks ago.
Her niece Ruth said: “She’s not going to come out of hospital now, that’s her until the end but I want Kenny to see how well she has done for herself and that although she has had a lot of problems in her life, she’s been a wee bit more independent than people thought she would be.
“She remembers going to the hospital and having him, feeding him once and she cried and didn’t want him to go.
“My aunt Carol has always asked about him, she’s never forgotten about him.
“For all she wasn’t allowed to bring him up, she’s always classed him as her son and she’s proud to tell people she has a son. It’s just so sad she can’t tell them anything about him.”
The relatives have enlisted the help of the Salvation Army’s family tracing services which specialise in such cases.
A charity spokeswoman said the average length of time before a reunion with a relative was 16 years but in 1999 two sisters broke all records by sisters coming together after 82 years.
Ruth said it had been “wrong” to turn Kenny away without seeing Carol more than 25 years ago.
“He would be more than welcome to come into our lives,” she said.
“We just find it so unfair that we have a big family and he’s never been involved.”
Kenny sent his mother some photographs of himself soon after his failed attempt to visit her.
Ruth said: “We’d all love to meet him and find out about him.
“He could be married and we know from the pictures that he’s got at least one child.
“We’ve not told Auntie Carol we’re looking again because we don’t want to get her hopes up but he’s never been out of her thoughts.
“She always spoke about him, especially to me, it was unfortunate at the time, that’s what happened. She will be over the moon if we find him.
“If he brought her grandkids too, that would be incredible. She has said that she’s a gran but she’s never seen them.
“It would be sad that he’s never been able to see her for all these years and then misses out because she passes.
“It’s definitely something that needs to be done.
“It’s just been the case she’s not been able to do it for herself, if she could have, she definitely would have.”
• Do you know Kenneth? If so, call our newsdesk on 0131-248 2423.
Finding missing family
A SENIOR social worker for Birthlink Scotland, a charity that helps adults formerly in care to access records and trace relatives, said it was a “sad case”.
Kate McDoogle works alongside the council providing a service called Care Connect to help reunite families for people who have been in care in the Capital.
She believes Falkirk Council could be key if his care originated there as, in those days, he would remain in their care even if he was later moved to Edinburgh.
Kate said if successful, it would likely be an emotional reunion as people who were fostered often faced the same issues as people who have been adopted.
“They have no sense of where they came from, family ailments or medical information because in the 1960s they didn’t record much. Very often, they come in with just their birth certificate, that’s it.
“Apart from the obvious issue of loss that they’re carrying, there are often issues of identity, ‘Who am I? Who do I look like?’ It can make such a difference to someone’s life simply knowing that.
“People are not always necessarily looking for a mother as such, a lot of them will have had a mother. On the other hand, some people come and are quite open that they are looking for their mother and that’s the woman who gave birth to them, it’s that straightforward for them. A lot of the people who come to us who were fostered and never had any contact with their original families, do have the questions ‘why was I never adopted, what was wrong with me?’ and it has quite a detrimental effect on self esteem.”