A man who spent decades searching for his real mum after having been adopted as a baby tragically found her dead at her home when he finally tracked her down.
Steven Smith was born at St David's Hospital in Carmarthen, Wales, in 1980 and was only three months old when his mother moved to east London.
There he was placed into care before being adopted into a happy family, eventually settling in Harlow in Essex.
Steven was a teenager when he was told he had been adopted and says after that moment he never stopped wondering about his real mum.
After looking into his past, Steven discovered from his birth certificate his brith mum was named Daphne Morfydd Jones, WalesOnline reports.
"My adopted family told me the truth about where I came from when I was in my teens and it came as a real shock," said the 41-year-old security officer.
"I found out I'd been registered as Jason Neal Jones and that I was originally from West Wales, but that was about it.
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"What is more, the case file containing my adoption details, which I should have received at the age of 18, ended up getting misplaced by Tower Hamlets social services."
So, with details described as "sketchy, at best" he managed to ascertain that his real dad had been sent to prison, leaving his mum unable to cope on her own.
"What he was sentenced for, or for how long, I don't know," added the dad-of-four.
Then, last October, Steven decided to do a DNA test, only to discover he had a brother he never knew about.
"It turns out he'd done the same test a few years before – that's how they were able to put us together. He'd been fostered by a different family and had been living just half an hour up the road from me in Essex all that time. And, even crazier than that, we found out that his adoptive dad used to date my adoptive mum when they were both in college."
Steven then went on to uncover a sister who provided him with what he'd spent years searching for – his mum's details.
"The pair of them weren't really on talking terms but she gave me an address in Bethnal Green. So I waited until the lockdown restrictions had eased a little bit and, the day before Mother's Day this year, decided to go round there. I got all suited and booted, because I wanted to make a good impression – although I was conscious about not freaking her out too much."
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Steven added that he got to the flat at about three in the afternoon, with his daughter Amy in tow for moral support.
"It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, but I quickly noticed there was a pile of unopened letters on the doorstep," he said.
"So I knocked on the neighbours' door and they told me they hadn't seen her for a few weeks. We then went around the back and Amy noticed the door was unlocked, so I went in. The bed was unmade and there were dishes in the sink. At which point I noticed her slumped in the bathroom. She'd been dead a while – heart attack, apparently."
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Rather than a long lost reunion, Steven instead found himself organising the 62-year-old caterer's funeral service.
"It seemed like the right thing to do really," he said. "My brother even helped me shoulder her coffin. We had her ashes scattered in the garden of the cemetery near to where I live, so now we can always be close to each other."
Steven said he's since discovered other brothers and sisters he never knew he had, most of whom had also been adopted into different families, and wonders whether there may be relatives in Wales he still doesn't know about.
"It's been overwhelming meeting them all – I never thought it would happen, and my adoptive family have been great about the whole thing. Now I can't wait until Christmas because we're all going to have a massive get-together."
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