Woman in the UK Spent 55 Yeasrs Looking for Twin Sister. Finds Her Less Than 3 Miles Away
I spent 55 years searching for my twin sister.. and found her living round the corner!
Walking through the park where she used to play, Jennifer Wilson was a bag of nerves.
decades she’d known she had an identical twin sister, but had doubted
she would ever get to meet her after they were separated as babies. But
finally she was moments away from coming face to face with her.
towards the bandstand, she noticed a familiar face looking back at her –
her twin Kathleen. With tears streaming down their cheeks, Jennifer
could finally stop wondering what had become of her twin. At last, aged
66, she had found her.
“I was so nervous about meeting Kath,”
recalls Jennifer. “I had butterflies in my stomach. Kath wasn’t aware
she had a sister. But all my life I’d thought about her and wondered if
she’d got married and had children.”
Jennifer grew up in
Rotherham, South Yorkshire, not knowing she’d been adopted by Elsie and
Harold Walton. She spent her afternoons playing in the local park with
her two older sisters, Joyce Burkinshaw and Edna Marsh.
evening she would listen to her mum and Auntie Eva chatting away over a
cup of tea. Eva lived two doors down with her parents and son Fred.
when Jennifer was 11, a girl at her school told her she was adopted.
“She told me Auntie Eva was my mum,” Jennifer recalls. “I thought, my
sisters call our mum Mum so this girl must be making it up. I asked my
mum if she was my real mother and she said, ‘Of course’.”
years later, her cousin said the same thing – that Jennifer had been
adopted, Auntie Eva was her biological mother, and she had an identical
twin sister. Jennifer remembers: “I asked Mum again and this time she
said it was true.”
Eva had given birth to twin girls, Janet and
Judith. Her parents told her that with so many people already sharing
the house, there wasn’t room for two more.
Now faced with the
likelihood she was going to have to give up both her daughters, Eva’s
friend and neighbour Elsie offered to take one in and raise her as her
own. At least this way Eva would get to see one of her girls grow up.
Elsie changed Janet’s name to Jennifer, and her twin sister Judith was
adopted by another couple.
Jennifer says: “I wasn’t upset. I’d had
a happy upbringing. I still saw Mum as my mum, and Eva was still my
auntie. I discovered my cousin Fred was now my brother, but I didn’t
tell him I knew. My mum didn’t mention it to Eva and I didn’t want to
upset anyone so we never spoke about it again.”
to have a close relationship with Eva. Over the years, Eva went
shopping, to the beach, and on holiday with her family. Then when
Jennifer was 26, Fred’s wife said she had heard Jennifer had a sister
who lived just three miles away.
Not wanting to upset her family,
Jennifer decided she couldn’t start searching for her. However, that
didn’t stop her wishing her twin could be at her side when she married
Howard Wilson, now 67, in 1981, and had a daughter Nicole, in 1984.
adds: “Whenever I looked after my stepdaughter Zoe’s twin girls
Charlotte and Becky and watched them play, I would think about what it
would have been like to have had my sister around me growing up.” But
with only a name – Judith Walton – to go by, which she knew could have
been changed, and unwilling to ask her mum or Eva for clues in case her
questions upset them, Jennifer was forced to move on.
died 30 years ago and Eva went into a home, I did get frustrated that I
couldn’t ask Eva for more help,” admits Jennifer. “But I didn’t want to
Still, that feeling that something was missing from
her life never went away, and soon she started noticing people in the
street she thought looked like they could be her sister. Jennifer would
ask her husband to check out other women when they were out, to see if
they were her sister.
“Howard and I could be in the supermarket
and I’d see someone I thought looked like me,” she says. “I’d hide
behind one aisle, because I was so nervous and tell Howard to get a good
look at her!
“One day we were at the hospital and Howard said
he’d seen someone that was the spitting image of me. I asked him why he
didn’t stop her. It could have been Kath.
“Then a friend called me
stuck up because she’d said hello to me in town and I’d ignored her. I
said it hadn’t been me. And a bus conductor said he’d just seen me
moments earlier. By the late 90s, I thought Kath must be around.”
1997, Jennifer decided to try and find her sister by contacting social
services, and adding her own name to an adoption list in case Kathleen
knew about her, and was also searching.
Then 10 years ago, she saw
a clairvoyant who said to her: “There are two of you – twins, you will
find her.” The clairvoyant claimed her sister lived by a church that was
falling down. But despite Jennifer’s best efforts, she had no luck
finding her sister.
She worried she’d waited too long and her
sister had passed away, like her mum and Auntie Eva. Howard asked how
she would feel if they ever met and didn’t get on, but Jennifer was so
desperate to find her, it felt like it wasn’t an option.
In October 2009, her daughter Nicole, 28, told her she’d posted a message on an adoption website.
It was spotted by a researcher working for a TV production company,
who was making a programme about reuniting families. Four months later,
she got in touch with Jennifer.
“I went to Sheffield Library with
the team to look through the registers,” says Jennifer. “I was so
excited to see Judith’s name appear on the database. I couldn’t wait to
In the meantime, Judith Walton, now called Kathleen
Millns, had received a letter from a national adoption service saying
Jennifer was looking for her, and asking her to call them.
explains: “I put the letter back in the envelope. I wanted to check it
was genuine. My husband said, ‘Are you going to call? If you don’t,
you’ll regret it’. But it had been a big shock.”
Kathleen hadn’t even known she had a sister, though her parents had told
her at 21 that she was adopted. But like Jennifer, she’d had a happy
childhood and had no reason to delve into her past.
“I’d had a lovely upbringing, why spoil it? I never thought about looking for my birth mother.”
Not long after that, the TV research team contacted Kathleen about meeting Jennifer, and she knew for sure it was true.
Jennifer and Kathleen had to wait an agonising three weeks to meet, their excitement and nerves mounting all the time.
the day arrived – March 12, 2010, a date they’ll always remember.
Jennifer says: “I arrived at the park early. I was so nervous, my legs
were like jelly.”
Kathleen was waiting by the bandstand and when she saw Jennifer run
towards her she started to run, too. And Kathleen did, too. They hugged
and kissed and started to cry. Then they went for a coffee and an
emotional catch up. Jennifer told her sister she had a daughter Nicole,
two stepdaughters Zoe, 43, Tara, 40, who passed away, one grandchild
Fintan, 15 months, and three step-grandchildren twins Charlotte and
Becky, and Edward, 10.
Kathleen revealed she’d got married, too,
to Derek Millns, 69, and had two children Julie, 43, and Richard, 40,
four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Kathleen her auntie Eva had been a bus conductor on a route they’d both
taken. Kathleen revealed she lived less than three miles from Jennifer,
and often collected prescriptions from the chemist’s where Jennifer
had worked for 40 years. They even had the same dentist and doctor.
told Kathleen about the clairvoyant she’d seen, and Kathleen explained
the church in the village where she lived had fallen down and was now
Two years on, Jennifer and Kathleen continue to
see each other, talk on the phone and make sure to see each other once,
if not twice, a week – making up for lost time.
Kathleen says: “I
wish Jen could have been my bridesmaid at my wedding, and godmother to
my children. But you can’t dwell on the past, you’ve got to move on.
“But we found each other and now we can spend lots of time together.”
says: “When I told my friend Joan I’d met Kath, she said they’d been
friends since they were six. She said she’d always thought we looked
alike, but had no reason to suspect we were related.
“All my life I missed my sister, and felt like there was something missing. Now it feels like we’ve always been together.”
By Victoria Burt
News & Politics