A woman left as a newborn baby in a box on a doorstep in Headington one freezing night in 1980 is hoping Facebook will finally lead her to her parents.
Baby Elaine – as she was initially named, after the WPC who delivered the 7lb 1oz baby to the John Radcliffe Hospital – is now a mother-of-two herself called Sarah.
Extensive appeals were made throughout 1980 in the Oxford Mail and on television but neither her mother nor her father were ever traced.
With student midwifery nurse Sara Beauclair after being found in a box
The only contact was several phone calls to the hospital and her foster mother by a distressed woman in the weeks after her birth.
Now Sarah has turned to Facebook in the hope that someone, somewhere will help her solve the mystery of who her parents were, with her appeal for information being shared hundreds of times by people across Britain and as far away as New Zealand.
She has posted photographs of herself as a baby and the box she was discovered in and some of these have been viewed almost 30,000 times, she said.
The 34-year-old said last night: “I would love to know who my parents are, not necessarily to have a relationship but I just want to know what happened.
“I would just love to know what my mother looks like. We had a gathering at Christmas with my husband Daniel’s family and my two sons have always resembled them. I have never looked like anyone.”
The box and contents that baby Elaine was found in
Her adoptive parents told her the story at an early age but it was only as a teenager and then when she became a mother of two sons – now nine and five – that she became increasingly keen to trace her mother.
Sarah, who lived in a village in Oxfordshire until she was six and now lives in Hull, has had files from the police that have “given me a lot of information but not quite enough”, and asked social services if anyone ever came forward but has never made that crucial breakthrough.
Sarah on her wedding day
It was only after she read about another abandoned baby on Facebook that she thought the social media site could help in her search.
“I never though I would get anywhere,” she said. “I thought I would try Facebook and I just cannot believe the response. People have been putting messages on and I never expected it. It’s just overwhelming.”
Appealing directly to her birth parents through the Oxford Mail, Sarah, who runs her own cleaning company, said: “I would like to know what happened so please contact me.
“There’s no hard feelings.
“I have had a great life and I could not wish for a better mum and dad but I am just intrigued to find out what happened and why.”
Homeowner thought parcel contained jumble
THERE was a loud bang at Joan Sheldon-Williams’ front door in The Croft in Headington on the night of January 18, 1980, and then the sound of someone running away.
When the retired librarian went to her front door she saw a box. Expecting a friend to drop off some jumble and thinking it was a box of old clothes, it was only when Miss Sheldon-Williams took it indoors that discovered the newly-born 7lb 1oz girl, naked apart from a towel.
She immediately called the police and the infant was whisked to the nearby John Radcliffe Hospital, where the only harm seemed to be bruising consistent with what was termed “an unassisted birth”.
“I think I was born in the hospital grounds,” Sarah said.
“A man was seen at the hospital carrying a box around and I was on a doorstep that was very close to the hospital.”
Sarah was placed in the foster care of Margaret Kyrie in Wallingford as police chased up leads in Oxford, Coventry, Rugby and Nuneaton – where the chocolate mousse box that carried her was originally from.
There were six telephone calls from a distressed woman claiming to be the mother to the JR and others later to Mrs Kyrie, after a nationwide appeal for help.
At 11 weeks ‘Elaine’ was given to her adoptive parents and she grew up in a village locally until the family moved to a village in East Riding of Yorkshire when she was six.
It is all speculation but Sarah said: “My mum and my dad and I have always thought she was very young and scared because back then having a baby at that age was frowned upon.
“We just won’t know until more information comes to light but that is my theory.”
Rather prophetically, in a fresh appeal for information six months after Sarah was abandoned, Detective Inspector Alan Bowmaker said: “The file will never close but it may be years and years before we ever hear anything on this again.”
Sarah is hoping that time may have come.