Long Lost Family viewers were left horrified last night, as they heard the tragic story of a man whose adoptive family threatened to “send him back” if he didn’t behave.
John from Wakefield admitted he never made sense of the unkind threats as a child, as he didn’t even know he was adopted.
It wasn’t until he was 13 that he discovered the truth – by accident.
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The father of two appeared on last night’s episode, after getting stuck in his own search for his birth family.
And as he recounted his lonely childhood with his adoptive family, viewers were heartbroken and angry.
“I want to make sure my family feel loved because, as a child, I didn’t have that,” said John, who lives in Wakefield with his wife Claire.
“For some reason I didn’t feel part of that family.
“I felt as though I were unloved and unwanted.
“My mum would say things like, ‘If you don’t behave, we’ll send you back’. And I’d say to her, ‘What do you mean, Mum? What do you mean?’”
John recalled the day he found out the truth as a teenager. He had been told to take his birth certificate to a football match, and his coach pointed it out.
“Reality changed that day for me,” said John.
“I remember thinking, ‘Where are my real parents? Are they alive?’ The biggest issue was, why am I not with them?”
John applied for his adoption file and headed to the local library, where he combed through birth and death records.
He discovered that his mum Marlene Munro had died aged just 19, two years after his birth. But he could only find basic information about his father, Kenneth Harrison.
After getting the Long Lost Family team involved, and following an 18-month search, they eventually found a record of his father – who had sadly died a decade earlier.
However, the team did discover that John’s father had gone on to have two other children. He had a half-sister who lived in Bulgaria and a half-brother, Stephen, who lived near Blackpool.
On hearing the news, John said: “I feel calm, I feel belonging, and that for me is what I’ve missed. There’s a lot of catching up to do. It’s the start of my life again.”
And viewers were left in tears as the show captured the moment the two brothers met for the first time.
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But despite the happy ending, there was still outrage from viewers at what John had reportedly gone through as a young boy.
“Why would John’s adoptive parents take him in and intentionally be abusive to him?” one asked on Twitter.
Another posted: “Who even says to their adopted child, ‘If you’re not good we’ll send you back!’ Hope this man finds the family he deserves.”
“It is so cruel to say to an adopted child, “We will send you back” awful. No wonder he never felt like he fit in with them,” said one viewer.
And others summed up what a lot of people were thinking, saying: “’If you don’t behave we’ll send you back’ that is just plain evil” and “#longlostfamily Evil cow! Send him back!”