Triplets, 35, discover heritage of father after being adopted at four

Adopted mixed race triplets, 35, born to a white mother and desperate to trace their father’s ancestry discover they are of West African and Irish descent but learn he died 10 years ago and his family don’t want to know them

  • Triplets Peter, David and Phillip, 35, were adopted at four-years-old in Liverpool 
  • Mother died at age of two and moved with adoptive parents to Northern Ireland 
  • The trio were keen to trace back their father’s ancestry on BBC2’s DNA Secrets 
  • Amazed to discover that their father was both West African and Northern Irish  

Mixed race triplets born to a white mother and desperate to trace their father’s ancestry discovered they are of West African and Irish descent on an emotional episode of BBC2’s DNA Family Secrets.  

Peter, David and Phillip, 35, who now live in County Antrim, were born in Merseyside and moved to Northern Ireland as children after being adopted at the age of four. 

Their birth mother had died of pneumonia, and they never knew their father. 

With the help of show experts, the brothers learned their father was of West African and Irish descent and, in a twist of fate, their mother was from County Down – the same part of Ireland where the boys had lived with their adoptive parents after leaving England. 

However their father had died 10 years ago, and although the brothers have living relatives on his side, they did not want to get in contact. 

Triplets Peter, David and Phillip, pictured as children, moved to Northern Ireland after being adopted at the age of four

Their mother Gillian (pictured) had passed away  from phenomena at the age of 33 in 1987 when the boys were just two-years-old and her sons were eventually put up for adoption in Merseyside 

‘It gives us stronger roots where we live already which is nice,’ said Peter, after discovering their ancestry. ‘Our main aim was to find out where half of our DNA comes from and we’ve achieved that.’

Viewers were quick to take to Twitter to comment on the touching story, with one writing: ‘DNA Family Secrets… amazing. The mixed race Irish triplets seem so lovely. Amazing stories. Stacey Dooley rocks.’

‘DNA Family Secrets is excellent. Really well done,’ wrote another. 

A third said: ‘Just stumbled across an episode of DNA Family Secrets, it’s amazing what you can do with science. ‘ 

Extraordinarily, the brothers (pictured with host Stacey Dooley) discovered that their father was both West African and Irish, and that their grandmother was from the same area in Northern Ireland they grew up

Peter, David and Phillip, now 35, (pictured as children) currently live in County Antrim but were born in Merseyside before moving to County Down as young children

Peter, David and Phillip – who could not appear on the show because he was shielding due to an underlying health condition – had always been curious about their ethnicity, believing they could be Mediterranean or South American. 

‘I think it’s to give you a sense of belonging’, said Peter, ‘Everybody deserves to know who created them’. 

Their adoptive parents made the triplets photo books to give the children as much knowledge as they could about their past, revealing that their birth mother was called Gillian and was 33 when the triplets where born. 

Passages in the book read: ‘Gillian did not find it easy to look after her little boys, this made her very unhappy.’

A teary Peter admitted: ‘I’m glad it was never hidden from us, the nitty gritty of it’. 

Viewers were quick to take to Twitter to comment on the touching story, admitting the show made them cry 

Host Stacey Dooley asked: ‘How often would you say you think about your birth mother?’ 

‘All the time’, he responded. ‘Nearly daily. I always think am I making her proud because she’s our birth mother. 

‘I think she would want us to find answers, because we deserve to know I think. We have each other, no matter how bad it is it’s still an answer.’   

Before receiving their results, the brothers met with their adoptive parents, who Peter said they ‘loved from the minute they met them’.

The triplets have always been desperate to know the heritage of their biological father, and brothers Peter (right and David (left) appeared on last night’s episode of BBC2’s DNA Family Secrets

‘It was just a laugh a minute’, said their mother, ‘They were such little characters, when you’ve got three in an almost mirror image, it was exhausting it was exhilarating but I was just entranced by them.’ 

However she admitted that their mixed-race heritage was impacting their treatment at school, revealing they moved to Ireland so their children would be ‘more accepted.’ 

She went on: ‘But initially we had social services telling us about the fact they were mixed race and said would that be a problem. 

‘The way they were being treated even at primary school. I remember one of them being in the bath and somebody had said something to him, he was really rubbing his arm. He said “I’m trying to take the black off” and that broke my heart. he was five’.  

Speaking to her adoptive sons, the mother went on: ‘When we moved to Ireland we really went there because we knew you would be accepted more, you wouldn’t be defined by your colour. And the fact you’re still there says it all, it’s home.’ 

Before receiving their results, the brothers met with their adoptive parents, where their mother (pictured) opened up about the children growing up without knowing their heritage 

Admitting that it was difficult growing up in Ireland as mixed-race children, Peter spoke of the support that he and his brothers have always had for each other

Admitting that it was difficult growing up in Ireland as mixed-race children, Peter spoke of the support that he and his brothers have always had for each other. 

‘Growing up it was a tough time’, said Peter. ‘Going to school we were the only coloured kids in school and children are ruthless and we needed each other for support, it’s made us stronger’  

Reassuring his adoptive parents, David said: ‘If there’s any time to get this information, it’s probably going to be now or never. 

‘If it’s never, we tried it, we did our best and that’s all we can do. It’s not going to change anything.’  

Insisting that her sons have her full support, their mother went on: ‘I wish I knew about their father, I tried to find out couldn’t get anywhere at all. 

Professor Turi King, a Professor of Public Engagement and Genetics at the University of Leicester, took a look at the brother’s DNA to try and gain a clearer insight into their ancestry

The brothers were thrilled to discover their father was West African and Irish, with his mother originally from around the County Down and County Louth areas

‘You need to know what your origins are, we take it for granted actually. And we will be there to support them 100 per cent.’ 

Professor Turi King, a Canadian-British Professor of Public Engagement and Genetics at the University of Leicester, took a look at the brother’s DNA to try and gain a clearer insight into their ancestry. 

She discovered that the triplet’s father was West African and Irish, with his mother originally from around the County Down and County Louth areas, but that he died 10 years ago. 

They also found out they have a living first cousin, however the family did not want to make contact with the brothers. 

‘We have that Irish connection, said David to his teary adoptive mother, ‘Never in a million years would I have imagined that.’ 

Peter added: ‘We have a great family around us, and it was about putting together all the final piece of the jigsaw.’ 

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