A mum who was adopted as baby has finally been reunited with her birth family after years of searching — thanks to Facebook.
Laura Dean, 32, was taken into care when she was just four months old before being adopted age two.
The mum-of-four was on the brink of giving up her 16 year search for her birth family, when she posted a last ditch message to a Facebook page.
She appealed for help to find her birth mother Jennifer Wilson, 51.
The next day her aunt got in touch, and within a week the family were reunited – include a brother and sister she had no idea existed, and were living just an hour away.
The gathering took place at her cousins house, Michelle Ray, 35, from Darwen Lancashire, and the event was a huge success.
Now she’s on the hunt for her older sister Emma Jane Boardman, who was also taken into care.
Laura, from Blackpool, who works as a NHS primary care assistant, said: “When I got the response from someone in the group chat I couldn’t believe it. It was so surreal.”
“I had been searching for 16 years, and after all of that everything I was looking for was just an hours drive away.”
“In the space of a week I went from having no biological family at all, to a whole family tree of relatives desperate to meet me.”
“It turns out my family had been looking for me just as much as I was looking for them, and at times I felt like it was a lost cause.
“I couldn’t be happier now that I have found them, and my kids are so excited about having a big family to grow up around.”
Laura was called Danielle Wilson when she was born in Blackburn in 1987 and was taken into care when she was just a four-month-old baby.
Her 18-year-old mum, Jenifer Wilson, was in an abusive relationship which led social services to put Danielle, and her older sister Emma, into care.
Age two, Danielle was adopted by Christine and Ian Pankhurst and her name was change to Laura Pankhurst – later Dean when she got married.
Laura was told she was adopted at four years old just before she started school, but didn’t know any details about why until she was 13.
Her adopted mum Christine wanted to wait until she was 18, but Laura figured out for herself after searching the house for her adoption papers.
At 16, she started looking for her biological family after discovering the names of her biological parents while going through old files.
She was constantly searching on social media, and applied for TV shows such as Long Lost Family and scanned electoral rolls countless times.
It wasn’t until she put a message into a Facebook group for the Blackburn area on July 18, she finally got the response she was looking for.
A stranger sent her a message saying that she knew her aunt Suzanne Wilson, 54 – her birth mother’s sister.
The next day Suzanne got in contact with Laura, putting her in touch with her entire biological family.
This included her birth mum, Jennifer Wilson, 51, and her younger brother and sister, Stephen Hughes, 29, and Amy Shaw, 23, who she didn’t know existed.
The newly united family then organised a gathering on July 25, meeting each other for the very first time.
“That day was instantly life changing for me. As an adopted child I never felt like I fit in, but the minute I met my family I instantly got the feeling that I belonged somewhere.”
“My sister is coming to stay with me for three days next week. We have been non stop talking since the gathering and it has been so nice to have that with a sibling. I have never experienced it before.”
Laura’s birth mum Jennifer said: “When I saw Laura for the first time as an adult I was nervous, excited, scared and overjoyed all at the same time. I have always loved her and I always will.”
Laura is now happily married to 34-year-old support worker James Dean, and they have four children.
The family are still looking for Laura’s biological older sister known as Emma Jane Boardman born in November 1986.
Emma was adopted by a different family before Laura, but she was only a baby when they were separated so has no recollection of where she may have gone.
“All we need now is to find my sister Emma, and I’m hoping this story will help reach out to her and encourage her to get in contact with us,” she said.
“If anyone knows anything about Emma or has any information of where she may be, please let us know as we are desperate to be a complete family again and have an amazing future together.”