Many adopted people feel driven to embark on long and demanding quests to find their birth parents. In one case, decades of painstaking research paid off when a woman in her late 70s was granted a court order that completed her sense of identity.
The woman was placed with adoptive parents within days of her birth in 1945. The couple told her at an early age that she was adopted and that her birth parents were each married to someone else, making it impossible for her to remain with them. The woman grew to adulthood, left home, married and had children and grandchildren of her own.
She was in middle age when she began her hunt for her birth parents. She had little success in the early days, but the advent of the internet changed all that. With her son's help, she found out her mother's name and that she had migrated to Australia soon after the Second World War. She had since engaged positively with members of her mother's large family and had travelled to Australia to meet them.
Identifying her birth father, who, together with her birth mother and adoptive parents, was long-since deceased, posed a more difficult challenge. Via a genealogical website, she obtained a DNA match with a third cousin who put her in touch with other members of the family. The niece and nephew of the man she believed to be her birth father consented to DNA testing, which confirmed a 98.32 per cent probability that they were blood related.
In granting the woman a declaration of parentage, the High Court found that the man was, on the balance of probabilities, her birth father. For her own sake and that of her children and grandchildren, it was important to her to establish a sense of familial identity. To her great joy, she had formed a bond with members of her birth father's family with whom she was in regular contact. The declaration opened the way for her to seek the man's formal recognition as her father on her birth certificate.