A LONG Lost Family mum broke down in tears when she found out the truth about her heritage – after being adopted by white parents when she was a baby.
Tonight’s instalment of the ITV show followed the story of Paula Stillie, 51, from Buckie in Scotland, and her long search for her birth parents.
She spoke of her struggles growing up with a different skin colour from her adoptive white family and recalled covering her skin in talcum powder as a young child to be like her adoptive mother Joyce, which she said broke Joyce’s heart.
Speaking about her search to find her biological parents, Paula said: “I don’t know where I come from. What are my roots? Who do I look like?
“I don’t feel as if I’ve got an anchor in life, I could come from anywhere in the world. I just don’t know.”
“I can remember covering myself in talcum powder from head-to-toe and Mum came in and I said, ‘I’m the same colour as you mum, I’m white’. I think that broke her heart.”
Paula, who is now happily married to husband Euan and the owner of a bed and breakfast in Scotland, told her son Kyle, 26, she experienced racism that made it all the more difficult growing up.
It was for this reason that Paula revealed she was so desperate to try and find her birth family – and to figure out where her roots were from.
After some digging by the Long Lost Family team, Paula’s mother was tracked down in England – but there was to be no happy reunion.
Purtroppo, the birth mother refused to have contact with her daughter, leaving Paula “deluso” e “rejected” ancora una volta.
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Paula then turned the search towards her birth father, hoping it would give more clues as to her ethnicity.
Paula’s biological mother, who was white British, was able to give the team some information as to her biological father – an American man called Larry Smith.
Larry had travelled over to the UK with the navy for a short period of time, but the lack of details made it difficult for him to be tracked down.
Infine, the team turned to DNA testing and found a distant match with a man named Joe, who had his entire family tree registered online.
The tree revealed Paula’s family were Native American, and included a man called Lawrence – known to his family as John – who was her father.
While he passed away in 1982, they were able to find Lawrence’s younger brother Joe, who lives in Montana with the rest of the family.
Speaking in a video call with Joe, host Nicky Campbell found out how Lawrence had always been a kind man, but had no idea about his daughter.
Paula’s aunts and uncles Joe, Mary Louise, Nancy and Richard also had no idea about her – but were keen to welcome her into the family.
“It seems to me that he would have tried to make an effort to find her himself, if he was aware of her,” Joe confirmed of his older brother.
Handing over a photo of Paula’s birth father at his high school graduation, Joe explained their grandfather George was part of the Comanche tribe in Oklahoma.
Away from the cameras, Paula was told the happy news by Davina McCall, who visited her home to tell her about her Native American heritage.
While the woman was sad to never be able to meet her dad, she was keen to speak to his four siblings and form a relationship.
“It’s life changing this,” Paula told Davina between sobs.
“That means the world to me in my heart, it’s that sense of contentment.”
Paula met her family for the first time via video call, much to the delight of uncle Joe, who said she was “bringing John back to the family”.
“I can’t describe how happy I am. I belong somewhere,” an overjoyed Paula summed up the episode. “It’s the start of a new chapter and it’s gonna be incredible.”
Viewers at home were left emotional by the eventual meeting between Paula and her father’s family, taking to Twitter with their comments.
“It’s so good to see people reunited. I was in floods of tears,” one woman said, mentre un altro era d'accordo: “This is just lovely to watch.”
Un terzo ha detto: “What an amazing episode of Long Lost Family. The reactions to the pictures were so beautiful… Crying.”