Eastern Cape teen mom is still looking for her child who was given up for adoption 52 years ago


It’s been more than 50 years since Catherine Lottering last saw her son. The now, 66-year-old says she wants to see her son who was taken away from her as she was a teen mom.

“I only had a chance to be with him for a week before they took him away,” she recalls. Catherine named her son Richard. However, she had doubts that the adoptive parents used that name.

The Eastern Cape-based woman is heartbroken that she was robbed of the chance to mother her first child. Even though it’s been 52 years since she last had any contact with her son, she can recall the events that led to the separation so vividly.

She can recall the date she gave birth to her Richard – 15 September 1968. “I remember my boy,” she says sadly.

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She says she was just 14 years old when she gave birth in Cape Town after being sent by social services from Durban where she used to live with her mother.

Her relationship with her mother was thorny. “My mother didn’t want me,” she says. She says it could be why she sent her to social services.

The pensioner says she was promised that she would go to school but instead she ended up being made a helper. “They promised I would go to school but I became a slave to look after kids,” she explains.

When social services sent her to Cape Town she says they didn’t know she was pregnant. But in hindsight she says they might have suspected because they sent her to a nanny home for young mothers which was located in Athlone.

Read more: No one is listening: Adoptive families trapped by South African home affairs

 “A week after giving birth they took me to a red building. The nun told me to sit down and I obeyed. They told me to sign some papers,” she tells Move!

She says the nun didn’t explain anything about what she was signing. Catherine had no idea she was giving her baby Richard away by signing those papers. It was the last time she would see her son. And ever since, she says she’s made means to find her son and the adoptive parents.

“I’ve tried every avenue to get hold of him. I want to know the adoptive parent. I want to know if he’s alive or maybe sold. I want to know all those things,” she says.

Catherine has had other children and is now granny to 10 grandchildren.

Speaking to Move! social worker at Gift Ov Life, Zoe Cohen, says a mother who gave her baby up for adoption can write a letter to the adoption agency they used for the process and the Register of Adoptions in Pretoria.

She says in the letter it’s helpful to speed the process if you include where the adoption took place, the date it happened and your identity number, contact number and current address.

Zoe says if they manage to find the child, it’s their prerogative to meet with the biological parent seeking them.

“The records are kept for 70 years,” she assures. She quickly points out that the mother needs to go for counselling.

“She needs counselling because the loss never goes away. It is important that she does before they meet the child,” she advises.

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