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Growing up with his adoptive family, Steve Belshaw had no idea that he had a half-brother. As adults, the two men lived just one mile from each other. As kids, they both played in the same park. But it wasn’t until Steve appeared on a TV show that the truth emerged. What’s more, his personal journey to get to know his new relative would be tragically cut short.

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Now, Steve was born in the early 1960s in Blackpool, a seaside town in Northern England. And his mother, Frances Unsworth, was just 17 and worked in a sweet factory when she fell pregnant with him. Although, she had fallen in love with Steve’s father, he tragically lost his life in a motorcycle accident during the pregnancy.

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With that in mind, Frances was facing the prospect of caring for her baby as a single mom. And in 1960s’ Britain, that would’ve been an extremely difficult place to be. As such, she made the presumably agonizing decision to put Steve up for adoption. To do this, she used an approach that would be unthinkable by today’s standards. She put an ad in the local newspaper.

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So by the time Steve was born, Frances had turned 18. However, she had already chosen a local family to adopt her baby. Therefore, she handed Steve over, and left his new parents to raise him in peace. Indeed, after they concluded the adoption, the two parties would never meet again.

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That’s sadly true, and Steve’s adoptive dad would later recall what Frances was like at the time of the adoption. For in a 2017 episode of the British documentary series Long Lost Family, he said, “She was strong-willed.” However, reflecting on how the situation may have affected Frances, the adoptive father added, “When she left she was such a lonely soul.”

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In fact, Steve himself only discovered that he had been adopted when he was eight years old. What’s more, his parents told him about the notice Frances had left in the newspaper, which they responded to. Furthermore, they revealed how his biological mother had chosen them to raise him. So how did he feel about his biological mother?

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Well, Steve said he felt no bitterness towards Frances for giving him away. Reflecting on his mother’s decision, he told Long Lost Family, “To have lost her boyfriend, the father of her child, I can only see her world fall apart. I think it’s extremely unusual to advertise your unborn child but it’s an extraordinarily loving thing to do.”

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And even though Steve had never met Frances, he felt like he’d gotten a sense of her from her actions. After all, she did what she thought was best for her unborn baby. As Steve explained, “Knowing that she went to all that trouble to find the best parents she possibly could find to me speaks volumes about her character.”

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However, while Steve felt no resentment towards Frances, he often thought about her and wondered if she ever remembered him. Consequently, if he ever got to meet Frances, he knew exactly what he wanted to say. He told Long Lost Family, “If I had one chance, it would be to say ‘thank you’.”

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But while Frances was often in Steve’s thoughts, he didn’t decide to search for her until he was in his 50s. By that point, he was still living in Blackpool and worked as an environmental consultant. But while he’d never left his birthplace, he still sought help to find Frances.

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As a result, Steve contacted Long Lost Family. Now, the ITV show first aired in the U.K. in 2011. And it’s fronted by hosts Nicky Campbell and Davina McCall, and features close relatives reuniting after prolonged periods of separation. Often, family members have been searching for their loved ones for many years prior to coming on the show.

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So Steve appeared on Long Lost Family in August 2017. And of course, it was his wish to reunite with Frances, his birth mother who he’d never met. But the only link he had to the woman who carried him were two letters she’d sent to his adoptive parents. So, the Long Lost Family team sure had its work cut out.

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To trace Frances, the search team scoured through marriage records until they came across one relating to Steve’s mom. So after more than 50 years, Steve was closer than ever before to tracking his biological mother down. However, that’s when the story took a tragic and unexpected turn – an obvious set back for Steve.

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For after finding Frances’ marriage certificate, researchers were able to search for more records relating to her. That’s when they discovered that she had sadly died in 2004, 13 years prior to Steve’s appearance on Long Lost Family. And so it transpired, in the form of a death certificate, that Steve and Frances would never be reunited. However, all was not lost.

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Indeed, by the time he appeared on Long Lost Family, Steve had never even seen a photograph of Frances. So when host Davina produced one showing his biological mother smiling at the camera, he broke down in tears. And that wasn’t the only breakthrough Steve experienced during the show.

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Yes, as he looked at the image of his mother, Davina dropped another bombshell. Referring to the photograph she asked him, “Do you know where we got it?” Steve was presumably stumped, but Davina soon put him out of his misery. She told him, “You have a half-brother called Rob.”

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With that, Steve learned that Frances had given birth to another child in the years after his adoption. As a result, he had a younger half-brother called Robert Hall who was around five years his junior. And in an amazing twist of fate, the two men lived just one mile from one another in their hometown of Blackpool.

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Now, Steve had no idea that Frances had gone on to have another child. And when the news was broken to him, he burst into tears. Overcome with emotion, he told Long Lost Family host Davina, “I’ve never had a little brother before.” With that in mind, Steve agreed to meet Robert in front of a camera crew. But there was a further revelation.

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That’s correct, because while Steve had been unaware of Robert’s existence, Frances’ younger child had known about his older half-brother. Indeed, his mother had first told him about Steve when he was just ten years old. However, Rob only learned of the ad Frances had placed in the newspaper on the show, and described it as “heartbreaking.”

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Furthermore, while Robert knew that Steve was out there, he had no idea where he’d ended up following his adoption. So as Robert got on with life alongside his partner Kelly and their six kids, he didn’t know Steve was nearby. That was until Long Lost Family stepped in. And as you can imagine, the climax to the story proved quite emotional.

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For you see, Robert also agreed to meet Steve on the show, so viewers could watch their reactions for themselves. In a poignant touch, the pair’s rendezvous took place at a local park where both men had played as boys. Therefore, it’s conceivable that they could have easily crossed paths as youngsters.

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During that first meeting, Steve and Robert embraced each other warmly, before sitting down for an emotional chat. As the half-brothers caught up, Robert relayed stories about Frances. Moreover, he was able to assure Steve that Frances had never forgotten about him throughout the years. So let’s find out more.

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Well, it seems that Frances had opened up to Robert about the circumstances around Steve’s birth. During his appearance on Long Lost Family Robert told his half-brother, “She always said to me that your dad was the love of her life and when he died it just destroyed her.” So, it seemed Frances had carried Steve in her heart, just as he had with her. And knowing that Frances had never forgotten him came as a relief to Steve.

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Yes, and even though he would never get to see his mother, he got some closure in relation to his adoption. As Steve went on to explain, “I’ve carried that hope [mom not forgetting him] with me for my entire life. To know that makes me so enormously happy.” But that wasn’t all.

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Reflecting on his experience on Long Lost Family Steve continued, “To have a little brother… I never saw this in my wildest dreams. Meeting Rob has allowed me to feel closer to my birth mother. He has got so many memories to share. All that will help to build a much clearer picture of the kind of person she was.”

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What’s more, for the first time in Robert, Steve had found someone who he was related to by blood. And he was eager to see what traits they both had as a result of that. As Steve mused, “We share a very similar sense of humor and a similar outlook on life. It’s very natural.”

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Touchingly, at the end of Steve’s appearance on Long Lost Family he got to meet Robert’s children. Furthermore, the two men vowed to keep in touch, and make up for lost time in getting to know one another. And so, it appeared that both men got the happy ending that they deserved.

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Needless to say, seeing Steve and Robert meet struck a chord with many Long Lost Family viewers. As their appearance on the show aired, many took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the emotional episode. And it’s fair to say that there was an outpouring of love for the half-siblings.

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Indeed, writing on Twitter, one user said, “I love Long Lost Family. So nice when they have a happy ending.” Meanwhile, another person said they’d been overcome with emotion while watching Steve and Robert’s story unfold. They wrote, “I’m full on sobbing during Long Lost Family. I’m not okay.”

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And it seemed that tears were a common response to Steve and Robert’s get-together among watchers. One Twitter user commented, “If you don’t cry watching this, you’ve a soul of stone #LongLostFamily.” And another viewer wrote, “You broke me at ‘he lives a mile away’… tears-a-rama! So much love to them.”

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Elsewhere, other viewers expressed their joy that Steve got to finally meet some blood relatives. One said, “The brothers are so natural with each other on the first meeting; 109 percent meant to be. Their mum must be so peaceful now.” Meanwhile, another added, “Got to love #LongLostFamily. Such a shame when the person they’ve been looking for has died. But amazing to meet the rest of the family still.”

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So, considering the social media reaction Steve and Robert’s story received, many people had shared in the half-brothers’ joy. But sadly the episode didn’t end there. And just weeks after the episode aired, it emerged that Steve had suddenly passed away. For his newly discovered relatives, the realization of his death was still hard to take.

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And the first Robert had known that something was wrong was when his phone calls and messages to Steve went unanswered. In August 2017, Robert’s partner Kelly told the Daily Mirror, “It was odd, as we had contact [with Steve] almost every day.” Worried, Robert went to see Steve in person.

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On his arrival, Robert received the shocking news that Steve had sadly died. As partner, Kelly went on to explain, “When Rob arrived, he found out that Steve had been found dead the day before.” Commenting on the tragic turn of events, Kelly added, “It’s absolutely heartbreaking.” Prior to his death, Steve had spent time getting to know Robert and his six children.

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And it seems that his newfound nieces and nephews had grown extremely fond of their half-uncle. For Kelly later told the Daily Mirror, “[It’s] so cruel. He was so loved by the children and I’m sure he knew that.” In fact, only two weeks before Steve’s death, the family had been celebrating the release of his Long Lost Family episode.

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Tweeting at the time, Robert’s daughter Charlotte wrote about the show in an update, writing, “Tonight on @longlostfamily my dad meets his brother for the first time – @ITV 9pm. Have tissues ready.” Moreover, after Steve’s death, Charlotte returned to Twitter to pay tribute to the show that reunited her father and uncle.

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And there she wrote, “The work @ThisisDavina, @NickyAACampbell and @longlostfamily do is amazing, I’m glad my uncle got to be in my life for the last eight months.” Touchingly, the 19-year-old demonstrated that her family had taken Steve well into their hearts. And this was despite not even having known him for a year.

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In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mirror in 2017, Charlotte added that she was thankful for the “time they had” with her late relative. However, she added that she would miss Steve “more than anyone would ever imagine.” And there were further tributes from other members of the family.

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For you see, Robert’s partner Kerry told the Daily Mirror that Steve’s passing had left her lost for words. She said, “I don’t know what to say other than we’re devastated and he’s been taken from us far too soon.” So given the show had brought the brothers together, it was only fitting that it paid tribute to Steve, too.

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Yes, after the news of Steve’s death emerged, a spokesperson for Long Lost Family issued a statement. And it read, “We are naturally deeply saddened to hear the news and our thoughts are with Steve’s family at this very sad time. We very much enjoyed getting to know him and helping him in his search.”

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