A British man’s search to find his birth parents after he was abandoned 33 years ago in a London airport came to a bittersweet end as he learned his mother had died.
Steven Hydes was just over a week old in April 1986 when he was found wearing two onesies in the women’s restroom at Gatwick Airport by a duty-free sales assistant.
As his story spread in the media, Hydes took on the nickname “Gary Gatwick,” after the airport’s bear mascot.
Hydes was adopted but began hunting for his biological family after he turned 18, he said on a Facebook page he launched to help bring attention to his search.
Though he has a “happy family” and children of his own, the man abandoned as a baby has always wondered about his origin story — until now.
Hydes revealed on May 11 that after 15 years of searching, he’d finally tracked down his family with the help of genetic genealogists CeCe Moore and Helen Riding.
“Unfortunately my birth mum has passed away, so I am unable to find out exactly what happened and why,” he wrote in the Facebook post. “However, I have found my birth father and siblings on both sides, who were all unaware of my existence.”
He continued, “As you can imagine this is quite a sensitive issue to all involved and very new to us all, but I wanted to take this time to thank everyone for their continued support over the years. The work the Genealogists do is incredible and for years they have worked so hard and it is thanks to them they are solving cases like mine. More people are having their DNA tested every day and I hope this and my story can help raise awareness and prevent other babies from being abandoned.”
Hydes had spent years appealing to the general public for help, appearing in two different documentaries and broadcasting his story in the mainstream media with the hopes of learning his real name, actual birthday and whether he had any siblings.
“You’ve got no idea how it feels to know nothing about what nationality you are, or where you come from,” he told the Guardian in 2011.
But it turned out to be a simple case of spitting into a tube that ultimately cracked his case.
“It’s quite simple. You just spit in a tube and mail it in to the big consumer genomics companies, like AncestryDNA, or 23andMe,” Moore told the BBC, adding that the DNA was then compared to the 26 million participants who have done the same.
“That is what allowed us to finally identify some cousins of his,” explained Moore. “Not close cousins, but more distant cousins, and then we used their family trees to reverse engineer his family tree.”
Though Moore said it’ll be difficult for Hydes to get all the answers he sought considering his birth mother has passed, the discovery does put some questions to rest.
“He’s such a wonderful person that I think it’s really a huge benefit to his new biological family that they found him,” she said.