Like many adopted people, Laura Jane Butler has longed to know more about where she came from. She has been desperately searching for her biological family for more than ten years.
“You always wonder who you look like, even about your hereditary history,” explained Ms Butler, a 47-year-old Amy Winehouse impersonator from Essex, who was adopted by a Jewish couple when she was three months old.
She set about trying to trace her family, but the singer’s search hit a snag after she tracked down her birth mother, a 67-year-old Jewish woman from the Ilford area, who then refused to acknowledge her.
“Unfortunately, I wrote to her saying thank you and that I had had a great life with my adoptive family, but I’d like to get to know who she is, and find out why I was adopted,” Ms Butler explained.
“She wrote back to me denying it was her. I understand why she rejected me; I think she was probably scared.
“I don’t think people know she gave me up for adoption; she went on to get married and have a family.”
Ms Butler, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the late singer, learned about her mother’s identity nine years ago after approaching Croydon Council, which held the records of her adoption.
“It had my mother’s full name on it and where she lived,” she explained.
The paperwork revealed a further family secret — that Ms Butler had an older brother who was also given up for adoption a few years earlier.
“I wanted to know more and I was frustrated. I couldn’t find anything about my father, my mother wouldn’t acknowledge me, so I decided to do a DNA test.”
Ms Butler used the website familytreedna.com to trace her DNA and the results came back to say she was 100 per cent of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
“I thought that was quite extraordinary because it is unusual in cases of adoption within the Jewish community,” she said, speaking on Wednesday —world DNA day.
“I assumed my mother had me out of wedlock and that maybe it was with a non-Jewish man.”
Accepting that her mother did not want to acknowledge her, she used the website to make connections with relatives who had also registered with the site.
“You do the test and you say whether you are happy to be contacted by your relatives. I said I am, so anyone else who does it and says the same can be put in touch with me.”
Thanks to the test, Ms Butler, who is married, has met a distant cousin who showed her pictures of relatives including her great-grandmother.
“They looked like very religious people,” said Ms Butler, who attended Croydon and District Synagogue, in South London, as a child.
“A lot of people in my biological family won’t know the story of my mother giving me up for adoption.
“I know that she was from a family of hairdressers in the East End.”
Ms Butler is conscious of protecting her birth mother’s identity, but explained: “you don’t understand what it feels like to see pictures of people that look like you”.
She is hoping more people sign up to test their DNA in the hope she will come across her brother or father.
“I know it is a big task but it is the only option I have. I am appealing to the Jewish community.
“There is a man out there who might not even know he had a daughter. All I know about him was that he was 6ft tall because that was on a piece of paper my mum had.
“I would just love to see a picture of him or find out about my brother.”