East London woman abandoned in phone box as newborn finally meets half-brother

Susanne Barrow, abandoned as a newborn in an East London phone box with a touching note from her mother, has met her half-brother after a six-year quest chronicled on Long Lost Family: Born Without Trace.

The emotional moment marks a breakthrough in one of ITV’s earliest foundling cases, with researchers uncovering a close DNA match, ending a long search for familial connections for the now 48-year-old. Her mother’s note promised she would meet her one day.

“I cannot keep the baby. Please call her Maria. My maiden name is Roberts and I would like her to have it,” read the message. “I have no one to help me so please take care of her for me. I am going to try and find her again, even if it means going to jail.”

Barrow’s birth mother attempted to locate her just three months after leaving her in a phone box, but her efforts were disregarded by council housing offices, as reported by Daily Mail.

At the age of 12, Barrow learned she was adopted, and on a recent episode of ITV’s show, she uncovered details about her birth family, which led to a tearful meeting with her half-brother Brian. The note from her birth mother also explained her circumstances including being abandoned by her husband during pregnancy.

Despite newspaper appeals, no one initially came forward to claim Barrow. However, years later, Barrow discovered a scribbled note in her social work files indicating her birth mother had attempted to contact council housing offices when Barrow was just three months old.

The note read: “There was a telephone message, a very distraught sounding woman who was crying and therefore, message very garbled, saying, ‘I want my baby back’.”

Barrow’s mother attempted to find her again, but her desperate plea was overlooked due to miscommunication. After being found, Barrow was fostered and subsequently adopted by a local couple when she was six months old.

“I had a lovely mum and dad but I always wanted an older brother. Being raised as an only child, you do miss having somebody to share life’s ups and downs with,” said Barrow.

At age 12, Barrow discovered the truth about her origins while looking through her adoptive mother’s suitcase of private documents. She found unfamiliar baby photos and a newspaper article revealing her early life.

“I didn’t even know I was adopted. It’s just, mind blown, like how is this possible? …As a 12-year-old, I just couldn’t handle that. The safest thing was to put it all away…. but you can’t go back once you’ve discovered something,” said Barrow.

She has never discussed her discovery with her adoptive parents but was motivated to learn about her birth family after marrying and having two sons. Six years after ITV’s Long Lost Family began her search, researchers identified her half-brother Brian through DNA testing. Brian, 54, who shares the same father as Barrow, was raised as an only child by his single mother in East London.

After ITV contacted Brian, he inquired about his father for the first time from his mother, enabling the Long Lost Family team to reach Barrow’s birth father. Unaware of Barrow’s existence and unable to confirm her birth mother’s identity, her birth father is still processing the news.

Brian, who learned he is one of 11 children on his father’s side, eagerly met his half-sister Barrow for the first time on the show. After sharing a big hug, Barrow said: “I’ve always had this image of having an older brother. Somebody’s just started ticking off my Christmas list.”

Following their first meeting, she added: “I didn’t expect to feel like this. Like I’ve known him all my life. Strangely, It’s just so comfortable.

“It’s just amazing to have somebody that understands. He doesn’t know our birth father. We can go on that journey together. Compare how we both feel. You can’t have those conversations with anyone else.”

Stephen Nartey

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