WHEN a teenage Kathleen Wilkie scoured the wards of a Zambian hospital to try to see her premature baby for the first time, little did she know it would be 44 years before the two were in the same building again.
Kathleen gave birth at just 16 while she and her parents were living in the Southern African country, an age that, at that time, was considered to be totally unacceptable.
Because of her pregnancy, she was sent to a home before eventually giving birth at a hospital in Bulawayo.
Kathleen was put under sedation during the birth, so was barely conscious of her baby’s delivery.
Cruelly, she was also not allowed to meet her child, born three months prematurely, before being whisked out of the hospital unsure even if it had even survived.
“I didn’t want to give her away,” Kathleen told the Mail.
“So I went to the part of the hospital where the babies were but I ended up getting caught.
“Then a cleaner visited me and told me that I had a little girl... and she was beautiful.”
The baby, named Tamsin, survived and was adopted.
Mother and daughter’s paths separated; Kathleen moved home to Buckhaven where she married her husband Rab, while little Tamsin’s journey led her to the USA.
The only people who knew about Tamsin’s birth were Kathleen, her parents and, ultimately, Rab, Kathleen being led to believe that her daughter’s birth should remain a “dirty little secret”.
“I never gave up hope that she would find me,” said Kathleen.
“But as the years went by it seemed like the chance was going.”
Tamsin’s parents had also adopted a boy, named Grant, who had a godmother, Sue Ettmayr.
South African Sue also lost contact with the children, but eventually tracked down her godson through his mother’s Facebook.
Telephone numbers were exchanged and Grant got in touch with Sue, asking her to help him find his birth mother.
She did, so Tamsin too was quick to ask for Sue’s help.
“We found a lady called Doris Robertson, an Australian who helps adopted people find relevant paperwork,” said Sue.
“Eventually we found out Kathleen’s name, her date-of-birth and that she was from the UK.
“But I was just sure she was from Scotland because Tamsin always loved the pipes.”
Convinced they now had their woman, further investigations were carried out, until another Facebook search was started and an e-mail sent from Sue to Kathleen on November 21, last year.
It read simply, ‘Does February 12, 1968, mean anything to you?’
“I turned to my husband and said ‘It’s my baby, she wants me’,” said Kathleen.
She replied, telling Sue: “Yes, it means a lot to me.
“Due to circumstances beyond my control,I was only 16, I had to leave the most precious thing in my life behind.
“I can only hope and pray that this is the miracle I have been hoping for ever since.”
Tamsin was living in Oregon, and was soon put in touch.
“I was scared and a bit numb; I couldn’t believe it was happening,” admitted Tamsin.
“It was unreal and I had been beginning to think it would never happen.
“But since we started speaking we’ve found out we’re so alike.
“We like the same TV programmes, read the same books and watch the same films.”
Tamsin and Sue made plans to come to Buckhaven to celebrate Tamsin’s birthday and now Kathleen and Rab hope to visit Oregon later this year.