Geoff Isaacs ... learned at 63 that he’d been adopted
Story and photos by Flori Cohen
How does it feel to discover as an adult that you were adopted as a baby?
This is what Geoff Isaacs had to face at the age of 63.
A gentleman with a warm and bubbly personality and a fascinating speaker, Geoff Isaacs held the ESRA Modiin audience spellbound on how he survived learning late in life that he had been adopted.
Geoff Lloyd, as he was then known, lived with his wife Jenny and family in New Zealand. He began his story by recounting the turbulent feelings and shock waves that went through him upon receiving a letter one morning from his brother Richard, informing him that he had been adopted as a baby, with an enclosed document confirming this fact. Geoff was shocked and devastated. Hardly able to utter a word, he handed the letter over to his wife.
Geoff was suddenly faced with a lot of holes in his life. He was confronted with the fact that his parents and siblings were not his family. They had lied to him throughout his life. He contacted his three children and informed them of this new reality, which they found difficult to accept.
Tracing his heritage was now of utmost importance. His search initially disclosed that he was born Geoff Lloyd in Birmingham, England, in 1944. The road ahead was long, with countless trips between New Zealand and the courts in England to try and locate his biological parents.
Further searches traced a birth certificate with his mother’s name and that of a John Leslie Harris, but not Geoffrey Lloyd. He succeeded in tracking down his mother, but she refused to meet or accept him. This was a letdown. It then became known to him that while his mother’s husband, Geoffrey Lloyd, was away at war she had a wartime romance, and he, Geoff, was the end result. When his mother’s husband returned from the war and learned of this, he decided that baby Geoff was to be known as their own child, and this was to be a sworn secret never to be divulged to anyone.
Six months later his mother and Geoffrey Lloyd divorced, and both remarried at a later stage. Geoffrey Lloyd moved on to New Zealand with his family. Geoff remained in Birmingham with his mother. When he was 12 years old, he was asked by Geoffrey Lloyd to join him and his new family in New Zealand. In comparison with bleak Birmingham, Geoff was delighted with New Zealand. He lived a comparatively good life there, although he divulged that somehow he felt different to his New Zealand family - a feeling he could not quite comprehend.
The search for his real father proved to be an arduous task. To his consternation he could not find his father’s name mentioned anywhere. He never gave up, and his persistence and perseverance eventually bore fruit. His father’s name finally appeared on his mother’s divorce papers as Leslie Isaacs. He was in for a surprise when he learned that his father was Jewish. Now he began to understand why he always felt different. He was elated when further traces led to family in the USA, followed by more family in the UK and Israel.
Geoff decided to take on the Jewish faith of his father. This was no easy task, and many hurdles had to be crossed before this could be realized. In order to prove that he was a member of the Isaacs family, a DNA test had to be performed. This was carried out with a member of the Isaacs family in the USA, and the test proved positive. Rabbis were then contacted to direct and help Geoff with the subject of conversion to the Jewish faith, which involved many months of Torah study, learning about Jewish traditions, being circumcised, and more. Geoff was supported by Jenny who decided to join him in all the necessary preparations to become Jewish.
Geoff and Jenny accomplished all that was required of them and they were then married according to the full Jewish tradition under a chupa (canopy) in Safed, surrounded by their newfound family from the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel, as well as many friends. One and all welcomed them into the fold with a great deal of warmth and blessings.
A long journey ending with a happy reunion.