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Being reunited with adopted son has made my life complete
GIVING her son up for adoption 48 years ago was the most painful decision of Sylvia Hibbs’ life.
But now she has her son back – and a whole new family in Canada, too.
As was previously reported in the Daily Echo, Gary tracked Sylvia down by finding her brother on Facebook.
The pair had an emotional reunion two years ago when Gary, who now lives in Canada, flew back to meet his mother and join her for her 70th birthday celebra tions.
And now Sylvia has had a life- changing experience, having made the return trip to Canada herself.
Sylvia, who lives in Eastleigh, was 22 when she gave Gary up for adoption.
Her first child had been born out of marriage and she was living in a tiny flat with her second child, a daughter.
Her husband had been in prison for most of her pregnancy and left her on the day of his release.
“I had no choice – my lifestyle was a mess at the time,” said Sylvia. I knew I couldn’t give him a good life but he was always on my mind.”
Gary had been raised in Canada since he was ten and now has a child and grandchildren of his own.
After Gary got in touch with Sylvia it took two years for him to save up for the flights from his home in Victoria, Canada, to come and meet Sylvia and his three brothers and sisters.
“I was absolutely gobsmacked when my brother told me he had been in touch,” says Sylvia.
“When I was about to meet him there was so much anticipation but I didn’t know what to expect.
Sylvia and Gary in Canada
“We clicked straight away. It was as if he’d always been here. It was really surreal – he used that word too.”
Shortly before meeting up with her son again, Sylvia and her partner Keith Pither were both diagnosed with having cancer on the same day.
Fortunately Sylvia’s cancer was successfully treated but Keith’s oesophageal cancer spread to his brain and he died earlier this year.
It was a terrible blow for Sylvia, who says it left her feeling lost.
But going to visit her son and his family in Canada has, she says, helped her put her life back on track.
She partly paid for the trip with money that Keith had saved when he intended to go with her.
It was the trip of a lifetime – Sylvia rode pillion on Gary’s motorbike, went whale watching, saw bald eagles, met Gary’s adopted son and grandchildren and had a tattoo done!
“Whenever you go away on holiday you want to bring something special back. Gary said that his friend was a tattooist and what did I think about getting one done.
“I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a tattoo on each shoulder – an English one for my English family and a Canadian one for my Canadian family. He said: ‘I’ve got a better idea’ and showed me this design. I decided to do that, not having had one before.
“That was my souvenir. I’m proud of it because that’s my two families.”
She adds that she was nervous about meeting Gary’s adoptive mother but that she got on very well with her.
“I haven’t just got my son back, I’ve got a whole new family,” said Sylvia. “It came at the right time because I’d just lost Keith in an awful fashion.
“I’ve come back now feeling refreshed and able to start my life again – the autumn of my life. I’ve got to make the best of what I’ve got left. I’ve got a lot to be happy for now and I’m really grateful.
I’ve got everything now.”
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