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Families lost... and found

Finding lost family members is an odyssey framed by tears and joy. Find out one family's journey where we played a part in helping the family members reunite.

Lily Arthur, 58, Fairfield, NSW

Flicking through the pages of that's life! magazine, I couldn't help feeling jealous of all the smiling family photos. 'Maybe I should tell my story to the magazine,' I said to my husband Des, 54. 'It might help me find my son.'

When I was 17, I was forced to give up my boy for adoption. I hadn't seen him in 30 years and didn't even know his name.

Des nodded enthusiastically and that day I called that's life!. 'We'd love to write your story,' a journalist said.

In May 1997, the article came out but nobody had come forward with information.

Still, the article had me fired up. I joined an adoption support group called Origins and found my son's name was Tim.

Since I had given birth in Queensland, I hoped that's where he still lived. 'Do you know how many Tims there are on the electoral roll?' my daughter Amanda, 26, said as we sifted through old records in the Queensland State Library.

But nine months later I got some good news. My friend Jeanette, 47, had found a Tim with my son's date of birth in some old school records. 'He was adopted,' she said.

I jumped in my car and sped to the address Jeanette had given me. Amazingly it was just 5km from the house of my mum Lily, 68, where I was staying.

'I'm Shona, Tim's wife,' said the woman who answered the door. Shakily, I explained why I was there. 'Here are my journals documenting my search,' I said. They had details about my family and the that's life! article. 'If Tim thinks I'm his mum I'd love to meet him.'

That night I couldn't sleep as I visualised Tim reading the journals. When the phone rang the next morning, my heart stopped. 'Lily?' a timid voice said. 'I think you can stop looking for your son.'

Tears ran down my face as I took in the news. 'How did you know it was me?' I asked.

'When my parents told me I was adopted, they said you'd written an article in that's life!. When I saw it in the journal I knew it was you.'

We met an hour later at a park and talked for hours. With his pale skin and blond hair I was thrilled Tim looked like me.

I was even more excited when he told me he had two children - Monique, 10, and Clayton, five.

'I'm a grandma,' I sobbed.

All these years he'd lived so close to my mum and we never knew, but now, years on, we speak a couple of times a week and see each other when we can.

I'm grateful to that's life! for reuniting us and now nothing will tear us apart.

(Right: Lily and Tim pictured, Left: Tim with his first grandchild, David)

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