Long Lost Family viewers found themselves breaking down in tears just minutes into the series, as it made a return to ITV on Monday night.
The series, hosted by Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell, is known for being a bit of a tear-jerker, but its latest episode was a particularly emotional one, as it told the story of an Irish couple who became parents young and had their son taken away from them by the courts.
Kevin and Phyllis explained that it hadn’t been their choice to give their son up for adoption. After having their first child, they had nowhere to live and had asked a Catholic agency to help them.
The agency took their son in to be looked after on the promise that if the couple could secure themselves, their son would be returned to them. But, when Kevin and Phylis went back after securing a job, the case went to court and the judge ruled in favour of their son staying with adoptive parents.
Their son, named Reuben, was adopted by a Spanish couple and grew up in Spain, where he lives with his family. He was unaware of his birth parents’ story and said it was a ‘big surprise’ to hear they were looking for him, as he thought he had been ‘abandoned’.
Reuben learned that he also has two sisters and a brother, who died in 2008 at 24.
Reacting to their story, viewers flocked to Twitter commenting on how ‘cruel’ the family’s situation had been.
‘I feel sorry for this couple. It feels like they were let down at every turn #longlostfamily,’ tweeted one viewer.
Another said: ‘This is so cruel #LongLostFamily,’ while one more posted: ‘Crazy how one judges’s decision changed this mans whole life even right down to the language he speaks. #LongLostFamily.’
One viewer posted: ‘This is such a heartbreaking story, how different things could have been if people had helped them rather than have been so cruel. You could see how much they loved their little boy. #longlostfamily.’
‘Imagine being born in the 70s to any unmarried couple who weren’t allowed to keep you even when they secured a flat and jobs. I’m lucky my parents had lots of family support back then. #longlostfamily,’ tweeted another.
‘Wow, such a sad story. From the problems of religious beliefs, through disgusting landladies, and on to idiotic judges. Hurdle after hurdle. #longlostfamily,’ wrote one emotional viewer, as another penned: ‘Absolutely heartbreaking story.. landlady & judge should be ashamed #LongLostFamily.’
Emotional scenes saw Reuben reunite with his birth parents, after he sent them a letter to tell them of his plans to meet them. His mother Phyllis broke down on reading the note and said a ‘weight has been lifted’ from her shoulders.
Another story shown on Monday night’s episode was just as heartbreaking, as one man Michael, 64, tried to hunt down his birth mother, only to learn she had died.
He was never told anything about his birth mother and found out she existed when confronted with a different name on his birth certificate on signing up to the military.
Viewers were left baffled by conflicting stories about Michael’s mother, as it was revealed she had dropped him off at a sitter’s hours, asked them to look after him and never returned.
However, Michael’s biological sister insisted their mother would never do that and explained how she had always known she had a brother, their mother had tried to find him and was under the impression her family had been looking after him.
The episode ended with an emotional reunion between Michael and his sister Lorraine, with Lorraine reassuring him he was never a ‘mistake’ like he had always thought.
Long Lost Family continues Monday at 9pm on ITV.