- David, John and Helen were abandoned as children on either side of the Irish border.
- The mother of the trio was a Roman Catholic who had an affair with a married Protestant
- David and Helen’s reunion was chronicled last year on ITV’s Long Lost Family
- John’s daughter watches the episode and sees similarities with his story – a DNA test proves that the three are full siblings.
Like many long-awaited reunions, the family reunion at David McBride’s Birmingham home last weekend was a joyous one.
David, his younger brother John and sister Helen kept talking till late at night.
It’s certainly not unusual—except that until two years ago, no one had the most distant idea that any of the others existed.
All the founders, each without a trace of their origin, were left at birth.
David was kept in a red tartan shopping bag in a car on the outskirts of Belfast on a cold January morning in 1962, Helen Ward was released six years later in March 1968, also in a telephone box on the other side Irish border in a red tartan bag.
Despite the similarities between their circumstances and the two mass media appeals, none made a connection between them, leaving the two to spend most of their adult lives in an unsuccessful search for their birth parents.
David, his younger brother John and sister Helen are pictured at their Birmingham home. The three of them – all abandoned as children – only found out they were siblings the previous year.
Only last year had DNA confirmed that David and Helen were full brother and sister, born six years apart from the same mother and father.
His surprising story came shortly after an episode of ITV’s Long Lost Family, which revealed the joyous reunion of siblings and the extraordinary fact that his Roman Catholic mother and Protestant father had a secret relationship for decades.
No one could have imagined that another twist could come next. Yet while watching the show several miles away across the ocean in Australia, a young woman named Donna felt the story resonated.
Her father, John Dowling, also a founder, was left on a May evening in an Irish phone box with a hot bottle of milk near her.
What’s more, his mannerisms were as terrifying as David’s.
Donna picks up the phone to her father – a heavy freight driver from Kilkenny – and suggests that he do a DNA test, too.
Incredibly, it shows that he was another full blood brother to David and Helen, born three years after David and three years before his younger sister.
Their extraordinary story is portrayed sensitively in a special episode of Long Lost Family tonight, which traces the events and secrecy that led a mother and father to give birth to not one but three children over the course of six years. Gave.
‘I always assumed I was alone,’ says 59-year-old lawyer David. ‘To find out that I’ve got not only a sister, but a brother has been astounding.’
Their surprising story was soon revealed in an episode of ITV’s Long Lost Family, which revealed the joyous reunion of the siblings and the extraordinary fact that their Roman Catholic mother and Protestant father had a secret relationship for decades.
“To be an adopted woman from day one, to have a full brother and then another – it is an incredible feeling,” says Helen, 53, a former teacher.
Meanwhile for John – who had also watched the show featuring David and Helen, thinking it was their own siblings on screen – the discovery has inspired a swirl of emotion. He says, ‘When I got this news, I was speechless. ‘There is sadness in this story, but there is also a lot of joy.’
With the three of them talking on Zoom today, there is no question about the family resemblance. They all share the same wide smile and similar nose.
And despite being relatively new to each other’s lives, having first met earlier this summer, they already enjoy the kind of affectionate teasing that any group of siblings would recognize. ‘It’s like we’ve known each other for the rest of our lives,’ says David.
Thankfully, all three had happy upbringings with their respective adoptive families, although they learned that they were founders at different stages of life. For David, who grew up in Belfast, the revelation came when he was 15 and applying to join the military.
On the birth certificate she was required to produce, her date of birth read ‘on or about January 6’.
He recalls, ‘I asked my father what it meant, and that’s when he told me.’ He learned that on 16 January 1962 he was found wrapped in a blanket, placed in a red tartan bag and left in the front seat of a car on a suburban street on the outskirts of Belfast.
At that time he was about 14 days old. “It meant that for the first few weeks of my life someone fed me, dressed me, kept me warm, loved me, someone really cared about,” he says.
The legacy of that revelation was profound. ‘Suddenly your view of the world changes a bit. You feel a little lost to be truthful,’ he recalls.
This began a quest to uncover his origins, which, in 2003, included a televised appeal.
Yet despite his efforts he was unable to solve the mystery of his beginnings.
David – who now lives in Birmingham with his wife Anastra and their three children, and also has four older daughters from a previous marriage – had no idea his sister was on a parallel journey.
Six years after David was released Helen Ward – just a few days old, comfortably dressed, and with a bottle of milk next to her in the tartan bag in which she was kept – on a rainy March night It was left in a telephone box in the Irish town of Dundalk. in 1968.
She was discovered by a lorry driver and later adopted by a loving couple, who had always been open about the fact that she was not biologically theirs, choosing not to disclose her full circumstances.. .