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I’d lost my girl for 20 years.. then she served me coffee - Jan 07, 2013








 Julie Wassmer, her grandson Caden and her long-lost daughter Sara Blake

Giving her baby girl up for adoption, Julie Wassmer feared she would never see her again.

Walking side by side, it’s easy to tell Julie Wassmer and Sara Blake are mother and daughter.

They have the same infectious smiles, their hair falls onto their shoulders the same way and they both love to wear brightly-coloured dresses. 

They love the fact they’re so similar as it proves what an amazing bond they have, especially after spending 20 years apart.

Julie put Sara up for adoption at just 10 days old, but now, after an astonishing chain of events they have been reunited.

In fact Sara had all but given uphope of finding her mum until she got a one-day job as an office temp - and ended up serving coffee to her mum!

“For decades, I wanted to know who my daughter was and what she might be doing with her life,” says Julie.

“Then, out of the 61million people ­living in Britain, I ­somehow ­managed to come across my daughter by pure ­coincidence.”

The story began in 1969, when the then 16-year-old Julie became pregnant when she was with her boyfriend Martin, then 18.

She now admits dating him was partly rebellious, an a­dolescent effort to annoy her strict parents Maggie and Bill.

Now 57, Julie says boys were off limits as she grew up in East London with a Catholic mother and education-focused father. “I was an only child and felt the pressure of their expectations – and I fought back.”

Julie dropped out of school and just weeks later realised she was pregnant after a nasty bout of morning sickness.

“I desperately hoped it was just a virus, but I knew in my heart I was pregnant,” she ­recalls.

“I was in complete denial. ­Although I could feel the baby kicking inside me, I wanted to ­forget about it.

“I didn’t tell my parents and luckily the bump didn’t show, so I didn’t look pregnant.”

It wasn’t until Julie was six months gone that she was forced to confront ­reality.

“I hadn’t been to the doctors once the whole way through the ­pregnancy.

“But when I ­finally confessed to a friend, shetold me to see my doctor.

“Only when he ­confirmed it did I realise the ­enormity of what was ­happening. 

“Martin was working on a building site, and neither of us could afford to support ourselves, let alone a child. We had no alternative but to put our baby up for adoption straight after the birth.”

On the birth certificate, Julie wrote the name Sarah ­Louise.

But just 10 days later, the adoption services ­ordered her to leave her newborn at the ­hospital.

Before the handover, tearful Julie carefully dressed the baby in a white dress, a pair of white booties and a white shawl.

“I wanted her new parents to know I did love her and I wasn’t just passing her on,” said Julie.

“Even though it was the right thing, I couldn’t stop ­crying as I left ­hospital.”

In the months that followed Julie spiralled into ­depression as she struggled to come to terms with what had happened and she and Martin split. 

Meanwhile, Sarah Louise was ­adopted by a well-off ­couple in Barnes, South ­London, who were struggling to have ­children. Amazingly, they named her Sara.

But for most of her childhood, she knew little about her ­background.

Sara, now 40, says: “I knew from a young age that my biological parents had put me up for adoption because they were very young.

“As far as I was ­concerned my ­adoptive mum and dad were my parents – they ­provided me with a brilliant life.”

But when she reached 18, Sara was entitled to trace her original birth ­certificate – and gave in to curiosity.

“I found out my birth mother was called Julie Wassmer,” she says. “I tried to trace her, but every avenue I explored drew blanks.

“I just ­decided the time wasn’t right to find her.”

Little did she know Julie was living just five miles away in Wimbledon, South ­London, trying to start a writing career.

As Julie built up her profile, she was recommended to literary agent Michelle Kass.

She was looking to recruit new talent, and Julie visited her ­offices in central London.

But while ­Julie hoped Michelle would improve her career, she had no idea the meeting would change her life in a completely different way.

She recalls: “Michelle’s ­secretary brought us both a cup of coffee. We didn’t take much notice of her.

“Michelle said her name was Sara and that she was just working for her for one day after her full-time secretary quit.”

But it wasn’t until the ­following day that she realised Sara was far more ­important, when Michelle called.

“She sounded on edge. I ­assumed she was going to say she didn’t want to take me on.”

But instead, she gave Julie life-changing news – the ­temporary secretary was ­actually her long-lost daughter.

“Michelle said she had started writing to a producer about one of my scripts,” explains Julie.

“She got Sara to take down the letter while she dictated but when she said my name, Sara froze and all the colour drained from her face.”

Sara had ­realised Julie was the mother she’d longed to meet for years.

“I was stunned – I knew there was very little chance two ­women would have such a ­similar name,” she says.

“I just put my pen down and said: ‘That’s my mother.’

“I had searched high and low for her and now I was presented with her on a plate. I waited on tenterhooks for confirmation – and felt ­physically winded when it was definitely her.”

Both women were astounded by the coincidence for the next few days.

“To begin with I could hardly ­believe it,” ­recalls Julie.

“The probability of a ­coincidence like that seemed too staggering.”

Eventually, the pair got in touch and ­arranged to meet that­ ­Sunday at the neutral location of Kew ­Gardens.

“We just stood ­looking into one ­another’s eyes,” says ­Julie.

“Eventually I said: ‘Can I give you a hug?’ and we collapsed into each others arms crying.”

They whiled away the ­afternoon catching up on the previous 20 years, pouring over every aspect of their lives.  Julie brought along family photos as well as her grandmother’s wedding ring, which she gave to Sara. 

Sara says: “Neither of us could believe how much we had in common.

“We looked so similar and even wore similar clothes.

“There was no ­awkwardness or ­bitterness; we were just so pleased to find one ­another,” she adds.

After their initial meeting, Julie and Sara continued to see each other ­regularly.

Julie says: “We would go for lunch, to the cinema or she would visit me.

“We just enjoyed ­discovering one ­another.”

Julie and Sarah say they have developed a special bond, more than a mother and daughter ­relationship.

When Julie found love again and married her husband Kas, 65, Sara made a speech at the wedding.

Sara later had two children of her own, Caden, two, and Talulah, one, and Julie has been on hand to help look after them.

They now spend birthdays and Christmases together, and Julie has been introduced to Sara’s adoptive mother.

Julie says: “I will never replace Sara’s parents and wouldn’t want to.

“But it means the world to me that I’ve been given a second chance to know and love my daughter and her children.

“Sara’s children have their grandmother, but they call me Nana Wassmer, which is ­lovely.”

In the past few months, Julie has even won the book deal she always dreamed about.

Fittingly, the novel describes her incredible bond she has forged with her ­daughter.

“It just seems ironic that after ­meeting Sara at my literary agent’s, I would eventually get a book deal to write about our ­relationship,” adds ­Julie.

“I never gave up hope that my daughter and I would meet each other again.

“But I really never thought it would ­happen in this ­extraordinary way.”


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