Since he was a little boy, the actor, producer and Principality Stadium rugby announcer Iestyn Garlick knew he was adopted; but now he wants to find out who his blood relatives are. Watch Iestyn’s courageous journey Iestyn Garlick: Stori Mabwysiadu (Adoption Story) on Tuesday, 27 December on 8.25.
Sixty-four years ago Elin and Raymond adopted a baby son, Iestyn from Nazareth House, a convent in Swansea. Raymond’s work as a teacher meant that the family lived in many different places during Iestyn’s childhood, including Pembroke Dock, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Netherlands and Carmarthen; Iestyn now lives in Llanddeiniolen with his wife Lynne. When the family lived in Blaenau Ffestiniog, and Iestyn was 6 years old, Elin and Raymond adopted a little girl called Angharad.
“I’ve always know I was adopted, that was my bedtime story when I was growing up, a story about how my parents choose me,” explains Iestyn. “I’ve had a comfortable life, I couldn’t have asked for a better upbringing. I’ve never considered myself as unlucky, because I was adopted.”
It was family circumstances which first prompted Iestyn to look for his blood relatives. In 1991 Iestyn’s son Steffan was born with severe learning difficulties: “At the time I was looking for answers. I knew that there was no history of disabilities in Gaynor – my first wife’s family. But I didn’t know anything about my family history. I started looking into my background, and wondered if I carried the gene.
“After I lost my mother and father I started thinking about looking for my birth mum. I didn’t want to start researching while they were alive, I didn’t want to upset or disrespect my parents in any way. When I started my search, all I wanted to see was a photo of my birth mum.”
Iestyn found out his birth name – Kevin Donnelly – about twenty years ago; and since then Iestyn has believed that his family were Irish. But in this programme, as he traces his birth family’s story, the journey takes him across England to Rugby, Liverpool and London before crossing over to Northern Ireland in search for answers. Iestyn admits that his search has been quite slow, and during Iestyn Garlick: Stori Mabwysiadu he talks candidly about the process.
“At the start of my journey, Theresa Ryan from After Adoption said that I had to be strong. She said that I might find out things I didn’t want to know, and I’d have to deal with that. I’ve been very honest in the documentary, and the process has been quite painful at times. Everything I found out during my search is on film, there was nowhere to hide!”
What will Iestyn find out about his birth mother? Watch Iestyn’s journey as he delves into his past on Tuesday, 27 December.