Fifty-two-year-old Kiwi-mum of two, Anne Ellen, who was given away for adoption at the time of birth, is still looking for her Fiji-Indian father.
“From what I have been able to find about my ancestry so far, I am aware that my father would be around 74 years old. So time is not on my side,” Anne told The Indian Weekender from Australia, where she currently lives with her family.
“My research so far is pointing toward the likelihood that my biological father could be the first-cousin of some Narendra Singh of Suva, Fiji.
“My ancestry DNA results have linked me to Narendra Singh’s son Nathan Singh, who currently lives in California with his family, as a first or second cousin,” Anne said in an emotional appeal to find any information leading to her biological father.
“I have also come to know only in March this year that my biological father’s family had a transport business in Fiji in 1966 [at the time of birth],” Anne revealed in a hope to finally bring the long-awaited good news.
This information about her biological father is gold, which has come to her after almost two decades of prolonged search, several experiences of heartbreak, desperation, and unrelenting efforts of finding her Indian-roots.
Reconstructing the past
Anne was born in October 1966 in Putararu, New Zealand to a Pakeha mum, before being given away for adoption where she was adopted by a family of Pakeha-mum and British father, who moved to Australia when she was eleven years old.
Since then she had lived a happy life and even going ahead and raising a loving family of her own around two kids and a husband.
However, her quest to find her own biological parents had never quite diminished.
Anne was first able to locate her biological mother in 1999 with the help of a New Zealand based genealogical researcher, and met with her in 2004 when she travelled to Auckland – an experience that Mrs Strukett found “pointless and too hurtful.”
“I felt no connection with my biological mother, right from the moment I made my first phone call to her in 1999 to the time I visited her in Auckland five years later,” Anne said.
However, what she came to know from her biological mother about her biological father was even more depressing, as with a fading memory she could hardly recall much detail about him, except that he was a Fiji-Indian.
Biological mother and father were pen friends
“I was advised by my biological mother that she got in touch with my biological father through a pen friend club.
“They wrote to each other for almost six months before meeting for the first time in New Zealand,” Anne said.
“My biological father is most likely to be visiting his sister who probably lived in the Auckland region.
“My biological mother and father had dinner in Mt Eden area along with his sister.
“I am advised that I was conceived during this brief visit.
“When my biological mother sent a letter to biological father advising she was pregnant – she never heard from him again,” Anne said.
Anne’s mother was sent away to Putararu to give birth and eventually returned home without the newborn baby.
Years later, when she went to meet her biological mother in Auckland, Mrs Struckett felt a similar sense of disconnect.
The resurgent desire to find the biological father
However, it was not almost a decade after that first meeting with her biological mother that Anne felt a resurgent desire of seeing her biological father.
“It was in November 2017 that I attended an adoptee support group in Australia, and firsthand heard about lifelong family searches, heartache, rejection, loss of identity and self-esteem issues.
“I had left that meeting in tears, and I knew then that I needed to embark on my journey so that I can truly understand who I am and where I came from.
“I needed to know my Indian heritage and connect with lost family,” an emotional Anne told The Indian Weekender about what triggered a relaunch of the mission to find her biological father.
Casting the net within the Fiji-Indian community
Soon after coming out of that adoptee meeting, Anne undertook the Ancestry DNA test for tracing her biological father side, and reports arrived after eight weeks in January 2018.
Anne was linked to a Nathan Singh on her father’s side as a possible first or second cousin.
After that she, along with her sister (adopted family) and partner, teamed up together to launch a global hunt on the internet – via google, facebook, LinkedIn – for a Nathan Singh of Fiji-Indian descent, sending numerous emails and social media messages.
One of such shooting-in-the-dark emails was eventually, and divinely, answered by a kind family, who identified themselves as Nathan Singh.
A phone call followed, where Anne revealed the findings of DNA test linking her to Mr Singh as a possible first-second cousin and sharing all the information she had about her biological father.
Fortunately, Mr Singh assured all possible help.
It was not up until this time (February 2018) that Mrs Struckett knew about her biological father’s family business – a fact revealed to her only in March 2018, from a New Zealand court record.
Armed with this new information, Mrs Struckett called Nathan Singh again for some help, and this time he agreed to convince his father, Narendra Singh of Suva, to undertake a DNA test.
The test report arrived in July this year confirming what has been established in earlier tests that she was linked as a first or second cousin to Mr Singh.
In September 2018, another expert on an ancestry site provided with a definite gene chart for Anne and establishing that her biological father should be the first cousin of Narendra Singh (Nathan’s dad).
Since then her pursuit has not revealed much, but she is refusing to give-up tantalisingly so close to fulfilling her long-cherished hope of meeting her biological father.
“I have exhausted all possible avenues of further leads, including that of government authorities in New Zealand and Fiji.
“However, it’s tough for me to give up on my life-long chase so close to its end.
“I have a feeling that by sharing my story with your readers I might be able to trigger something that could connect me to my biological father,” Anne said.
Fully aware about sensitivities
Being an adult herself with a loving family around, Anne is fully informed about the sensitivities around connecting with a child born outside mutual consent and usual conjugal bonds.
“I am fully aware to understand the fact that accepting the reality of having a child not known to the rest of the world could be scary and can come with social consequences.
“But I am prepared to proceed with utmost care and sensitivity, as I have done in the past, with any information leading to her biological father.
“At this stage, I don’t even know that he would even be aware of my existence in this world.
“Did he receive the letter that my biological mother sent to him announcing her pregnancy at all?” asks an emotionally charged Anne.
This is one question, amongst many others that continuously criss-crosses her mind and soul every day in the two-decade-long pursuit of her roots and self-identity.
Keen to embrace her extended Indian family
However, it’s not just her own questions and anxiety that her quest is all about, it is also about the keenness to know and accept her extended Indian family from her biological father’s side.
“I am indeed keen to find his extended family even if he is not interested in knowing me,” said Anne with much positive conviction, hoping for the best outcome.
Experts of human psychology though warn that not all quests for family-reunions end positively with a memorable experience.
However, Anne has so far not given up or refusing to lose hope on the big dream of finding her Indian-roots.