Mum abandoned as baby stunned to discover relative much closer than she realised

When Hong Kong-born Claire Martin went on the search for relatives on ITV’s Long Lost Family she didn’t think she’d find them so close to home.

When she was just two-years-old, Claire was among 100 children adopted in the UK from overcrowded orphanages in the country.

After years of trying to find out more about where she came from, she got in touch with the ITV show hosted by Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell.

With their help, she flies back to her birthplace on a voyage of discovery 58 years after leaving it.

Human resources director Claire knew it would be a tall order to find blood relatives after hitting a number of dead ends over the years.

Claire Martin as an infant with her adoptive parents Bo (centre) and Doris (right)

But the mum-of-one couldn’t believe it when she had a breakthrough closer to home – and she discovered a good friend was actually one of her relations.

Claire, 60, discovered she was related to pal Joanna Battershell, thanks to DNA tests.

Claire and Joanna met up eight years ago when they discovered they flew into Heathrow on the same flight to be adopted.

Mum-of-on Claire said: “It’s just unbelievable! We’ve always said we are sisters in spirit.

Claire and Joanna have been close friends for eight years
Claire and Joanna have been close friends for eight years

“It’s extraordinary that I went all the way to Hong Kong looking for relatives and, in the end, found them in the UK. I feel as though I have got a family now, which I never had before and it’s a big family!”

Claire grew up in Little Sutton, Cheshire and had a happy adoption with parents Bo and Doris Chin – but struggled to fit into the predominantly white community.

She recalled: “As soon as I went to school it was very obvious that I was different from everybody else. I remember when I was about six or seven, I prayed to be white but I woke up and I was still Chinese.”

At the age of twelve, Claire’s adoptive mother died and her need to find out about her birth family intensified.

Now married with a daughter of her own, Claire told: “It’s a huge void not knowing who you are. It’s very difficult to survive without roots.”

An emotional Claire in a room full of babies cots at the Po Leung Kuk orphanage in Hong Kong where Claire ended up in 1960 after being abandoned by her birth mother

With records scarce and no information about her birth family, Claire travelled to Hong Kong to find out more.

In Long Lost Family, she makes an emotional visit to the stairwell where she was abandoned.

“I very much get the impression [my birth mother] wanted me to survive because she left me in probably the most comfortable place she could find to leave me,” said Claire.

“People often ask me if I can forgive my mother for leaving me, but I think she was in such dire and desperate circumstances she didn’t have any choice.”

She also visited the orphanage on her birth certificate – which brought back distant memories for Claire. 

“I have a memory of fiddling with this catch and the whole front falling down. It felt like my whole world collapsed.”

But those dark moments have been replaced by happy times as Claire discovers more blood relatives around the world.

“Up until I met these people, my closest blood relative was my daughter. I now have family.

“We all talk on WhatsApp. The minute we’re allowed to travel I’ll be going to see them.

“We’ve made a breakthrough but there’s more to discover.”

  • Watch Claire’s story Monday on Long Lost Family, ITV, 9pm

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