Anne Jordan, 54, is an addiction counsellor who lives in the New Forest, Hampshire, with her fiance Chris, 56, an estate manager. She has one grown-up daughter.
Standing by the door of the pub, my heart pounded in my chest. I was about to meet my sister for the very first time.
Given up for adoption as a baby, I never knew my biological family.
But after a long and painful search for my birth mother, I was overjoyed to discover I had a half-sister.
Now, we were finally going to meet. Taking a deep breath, I pushed open the door.
Looking back, I had a very happy childhood with my adoptive family, growing up in the Surrey countryside.
From an early age, my mum explained she couldn’t have children so she’d chosen me.
I never felt sad about not being biologically related to my parents – in fact, I felt special.
However it always bothered me that I didn’t look like anyone in my family so, when I was 17, I asked for my records from social services.
I discovered my biological mum was called Joan Gorley, but when I tried to find out more, I hit a dead end.
Records from the adoption hearing revealed my mum planned to move to Australia after I was born, but much of the information had been destroyed in a fire.
I was sad not to find more, but determined not to give up.
When I was 22, I was dealt a devastating blow when my adoptive mum died of a heart attack aged 58.
It was sudden, and I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye.
Six months later, my dad died too.
They say you can die of a broken heart and I believe that’s what happened. I felt so alone.
For a long time after my parents’ death I was angry and struggled to get close to anyone.
I was convinced anyone I loved would either die or abandon me.
I put all my efforts into finding my biological mum and found the private agency that had handled the adoption.
It transpired the lady who owned it had died, and nobody else could help.
I even hired a private investigator to try to track her down and, at one point, I rang every person with the last name Gorley in the phonebook.
Nobody I spoke to knew anything and I started to doubt I would ever find her.
Meanwhile, in 2011, I met my fiance Chris.
He was kind and compassionate, everything I’d been looking for in a man. We clicked straight away.
I moved from London to the New Forest to live on the country estate that he manages.
We talked about getting married early on in our relationship but I knew I didn’t want to tie the knot without finding my biological family.
I imagined my birth mum looking on proudly as I walked down the aisle.
After six years together, I asked Chris to marry me but warned him it might be a long engagement.
Thankfully, he said yes.
Around the same time, I contacted ITV’s Long Lost Family to see if they could help me find my mum.
A few months later, I was visited by Davina McCall and she told me they had traced my biological mother.
The reason I’d never been able to find her was that she used the wrong name on my birth certificate.
She was born out of wedlock to a man whose surname was Gorley, which is why she gave that as her name.
However, her birth certificate said her name was Joan Gates – her mother’s surname.
She lived in Cumbria and got pregnant with me accidentally.
When her parents found out, they sent her away to live with an aunt in London.
As far as I know, they never spoke to her again, and I was given up for adoption.
Shortly after I was born, she fell in love and got married.
However, sadly, she died of cancer in 1975 when she was just 31.
At the time, I would have been nine.
I was devastated to hear she was no longer alive.
Although I’d never known her, I felt the loss keenly.
But there was some good news.
After my mum got married, she and her husband had a daughter called Flo, who was two years younger than me.
Flo moved to Belfast with her dad shortly after our mum died, and still lives there with her husband.
I couldn’t believe I had a sister I never knew about, and couldn’t wait to meet her.
We arranged to meet in a pub in west London. I was excited, but nervous too.
As soon as I saw her, I realised how similar we look.
We have the same eyes, blonde hair, and dimples when we smile.
While I’ve often heard people talking about having an instant connection with someone, I’ve never really believed it.
But when I met Flo, I instantly loved her and felt an incredible bond.
As we chatted, I realised she too had often felt lonely and lost after our mum died.
Now we speak on the phone every day.
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