In an exclusive interview with New Idea, WA mum Patricia Graugg tearfully reveals how she was just 18 when she was forced to give her baby daughter up for adoption only weeks after she was born, bowing to family pressure to give her up amid fears she didn’t have the financial means to support a young child.
Patricia, now 53, says she wrote an emotional letter for her daughter – who she named Rachael – before saying goodbye to her baby, telling her firstborn:
‘I love you dearly...It hurt me greatly as I held you for the last time.’
And while she’s now proud of the confident and sassy woman gracing our TV screens, Pat admits it was devastating to give her up for adoption back in 1982.
‘Giving up my baby was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,’ Pat tells New Idea, remembering how she bawled her eyes out at her final goodbye.
‘But my family pushed me towards adopting her out and I just felt it was for the best.
There was no government help and I felt my baby would have a better chance if she grew up in a loving household.’
The Brisbane-based mum, who went on to have three sons, remembers a tormented pregnancy, plagued by indecision about whether she should keep her little one.
‘I cried a lot,’ says Pat, who’d left school early to work at a Coles supermarket in Warwick, Western Australia. ‘Then as soon as I held her, I was in love.
I bathed her, changed her and fed her bottles, then before I knew it, our time was up.’ Pat reveals Tracey’s biological dad – a 21-year-old plumber – has no idea she fell pregnant after their night of passion, but says she would love to track him down.
‘Eight weeks after I got pregnant, I tracked him down at a party,’ says Pat. ‘But he was with another girl and had love bites all over his neck, so I decided to walk away. He was tall, good-looking and had shoulder-length blond hair.’
Weeks after Pat’s daughter was born, she was adopted by new parents Jenny and Mick, who changed Rachael’s name to Tracey and raised her with love.
Each birthday and Christmas, Pat would say a little prayer for her daughter – but it wasn’t until the eve of Tracey’s 18th birthday that Pat received a most unexpected letter in the mail.
‘I was so, so happy,’ recalls Pat, who’d left a note on the adoption papers saying that she was available to be contacted by her daughter whenever she liked.
‘I rang Tracey straight away and we agreed to meet two days later. But what would she think of me? Would she hate me? I was so nervous and excited.’
A giant hug and many tears washed away any doubts the two may have had about the reunion.
‘All I could think of was: “Oh my God, you are so me! You have long fingers and you’re so tall, plus your eyes and cheeks look like mine,”’ Pat says.
Now Pat is an enthusiastic supporter of her daughter on MAFS – even though she was initially worried about Tracey’s emotional wellbeing when she first found out she was going on the reality show.
‘But I needn’t have worried – I’m really enjoying the show and I think it’ll get even better now that Davina has left,’ Pat says. ‘I couldn’t stand her and spent the first half of the season screaming and cursing at the telly. I’m proud of the way Tracey carries herself on Married At First Sight.’
But when it comes to Tracey’s TV husband Dean, Pat – along with thousands of Australians – isn’t as supportive.
‘I’ve never felt right about him,’ Pat says. ‘I’m struggling to see a strong connection there.
‘She has given him many chances to redeem himself, but he just can’t be trusted. I’ve told her to kick him to the kerb!’
Dean, a 39-year-old self-confessed ‘swinger’, has viewers shaking their heads on a weekly basis with his unfaithful antics, yet Tracey keeps finding reasons to stay with her beau, who she met at the altar.
‘That’s her beautiful heart,’ quips Pat, proudly. ‘She’s a beautiful girl who is open and honest, and she just wants to see the best in people.
'I loved her the moment we reconnected.
‘I really couldn’t have asked for a better daughter.’
For the full story see this weeks issue of New Idea - out now!