Woman kidnapped as 4-year-old by couple who became her 'mom and dad', reunites with REAL family after 53 YEARS
WEST YORKSHIRE, UK: Susan Gervaise disappeared in 1969 after a family offered to take her to Disney World in Florida, but never brought her back to her real mother. Susan claims that when she was just four years old, a couple kidnapped her and fled with her to Canada, and then New Zealand, and Australia. After she had been 'stolen', the kidnapping couple became her new "mom and dad" even as her real mother searched desperately for her whereabouts.
Now, 53 years later, Susan, who is now a grandmother by this point, reunited with her siblings though her mother had unfortunately already died. Speaking about the circumstances of her birth and subsequent kidnapping, she said, "As a child I lived with my six siblings in an old vicarage on a travellers' site. We weren’t travellers. My mum was on her own and we were all in and out of foster care. I was befriended by a couple on the site who were from Scotland — the woman, who I call my 'mum,' had MS and they had two sons. I think they wanted a girl."
"They asked my mum if they could take me to Disney World and she gave them my birth certificate so I could be put on their passport. Instead, they took me to Canada, then Australia and later New Zealand. This was always their plan," said Susan.
When Susan was a little older, the couple told her that she had been put up for adoption and that they had taken her in. She never realised what was going on at the time as she had no memories of who she was. But, despite this, Susan says she has had a "great life".
"I lived a cherished life where I was spoiled rotten," she said. "My mum died from MS when I was 10, but even then, being raised in the hub of a travelling community I was very loved. I have always been happy growing up. I travelled the world,"
But even though she was brought up well, her real mother was distraught and kept actively looking for her and her biological family worried they would never see her again. They faced an additional hurdle with the authorities not taking their complaints seriously. Since Susan had been in and out of foster care and her own mother had permitted her to travel with the couple, it is believed that the authorities never became involved.
Susan was clueless till recently when she had to renew her passport and realized she couldn't find any evidence of her adoption. She was reunited with four of her six siblings in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, after her husband posted an appeal on an Australian Facebook page.The pair recently travelled to the UK to finally meet them after all these years, and they attended a party to honour Susan's 57th birthday.
Susan said: "The enormity of what happened to me didn’t hit me. I just carried on with my life. It was only when somebody who was adopted asked me what my family back in the UK would be feeling and that was a lightbulb moment for me. When I [finally] spoke to my family, they were crying hysterically because I was alive."
Sadly, Susan's biological mother had died 8 years ago and never learned that her daughter was alive and well. Fortunately, her sick sister was able to see Susan before she became too ill to interact with her. Susan’s niece Emma said, "It’s been amazing – especially for my mum. She has Parkinson’s and dementia so it’s amazing she’s been reunited with her sister before she deteriorates. She’s now complete."