Ian's Story

It is a sad fact that, for some people, a childhood in children's homes
meant being split from their family - not just parents, and grandparents
but also brothers and sisters.



Ian went into Cottage Homes in 1950 when he was two years old. Because he was so young, he doesn't remember anything from before he went in. His timein the Homes was not happy, he describes it as a 'loveless place'. He left in 1954 when he was adopted by a family who he loved dearly and who gave him the happiness he had been missing.


But he still thought what his life and his family might have been like before he went into the Homes.

When he first got in touch with me and the former children's homes website in 2011, he  said that he thought he might have had brothers and sisters when he went in to the cottage homes but he was not at all sure. He certainly had had no contact with any member of his birth family since then.

Eight years after Ian's memories were posted on the FormerChildrensHomes.org.uk, I received an email from a man, Matthew, who had read Ian's memories on the website and was desperately trying to get in touch with him.

"We've checked it all out, we're sure he's my uncle!"


Matthew's father, Richard, searching for information about his own family, had read the memories written by Ian and had first recognised his name, but then realised that other facts also matched those of the brother he was searching for - the dates, Ian's age, the name of the Homes.


After a long conversation going through all the evidence, I was ready to believe there was agood chance that Ian could indeed be Richard's brother.

I sent Ian an email asking him to get in touch with me. But the email pinged straight back - it was no longer functioning. A frantic search through old emails and I was very relieved to discover Ian had sent me a phone number. After a very nervous couple of hours, I caught him at home and was able to tell him that people were trying to get in touch with him who believed they were his family.



I was able to tell him that we thought he had an older brother, Richard, who was excitedly waiting to hear from him, having been searching for him for many years.


It was a very emotional call.


The two brothers, Richard and Ian shared a phone call that evening - the first time they had talked for  around 68 years. While Ian, being so young when he went into the Homes, had nothing more than a vague inclination that he might have had a brother, Richard remembered Ian well. He was able to tell Ian all about his birth family. He was also able to tell him that they had lived only a couple of miles apart all these years.


And there was more news. Richard had been searching for his brothers and sisters for two decades and not only had he found Ian on this website, but a matter of days before, he had also found a sister. Richard and his sister were due to meet the following weekend so, of course, Ian went along too, the three of them together for the first time in nearly seven decades. They sent me a photograph of the three of them, they all look so similar, it is remarkable.

There are many lessons to be learned from this story, although some of them are being learned too late for.many people.


Ian should not have had to wait 68 years to learn that he had family and to have the opportunity to meet them. 


I would like to see all former children in care given access to as much information as possible to enable them to learn about and, if they wish to, contact their family. 


What Ian's story reminds us, as so many of these stories do, is that searches of this type can take time, dogged determination and a huge amount of luck. In an ideal world, people would be given free practical help and emotional support throughout.


This website site gets thousands of visitors each month so if you are lookingforsomeone, why not submit a message, with your email address (or email me to use the site's email address), and see what happens. Maybe you will experience a bit of luck too.




Finding your records 


The first step in learning about your childhood in care and in seeking information about siblings is to apply to see your records from the care authority in the location of your children's home.

Have a look at our page on accessing records.