Woman Learns Son She Gave Up For Adoption Died In Lockerbie Bombing


She found her son and lost him all on the same day.

That’s how 65-year-old Carol King-Eckersley described the moment she learned the baby boy she gave up for adoption 45 years ago died in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

When she was 19, King-Eckersley was pregnant, unmarried and worried about what it would do to the reputation of her father, a local school principal. She said she succumbed to pressure to give up the baby, who would later be adopted and named Kenneth Bissett.

The last time she saw her baby was in the front seat of a car as she left the hospital where she had given birth to him:

“There was this little bundle wrapped up in the front seat and all I could think, all the way from Queens in New York to mid-Manhattan, was ‘please don’t cry’,” she told the BBC. “I knew that if he cried I would not be able to do it.”

Twenty-one years later, Bissett, then a college student at Cornell who was enrolled in a study-abroad program in London, got on board Flight 103 to New York. (He was supposed to leave a few days earlier, but stayed in London for an impromptu 21st birthday party.) It was Dec. 21, 1988.

In the skies over Lockerbie, Scotland, a bomb exploded, killing everyone on the plane.

For King-Eckersley, who tells her story in a new BBC documentary, the discovery was heartbreaking:

“There was always the hope and dream that some day there would come a knock at the door and I would open it and there would be this tall handsome gentleman saying, ‘Hi, I guess you are my mom,'” King-Eckersley said. “When I saw that on my computer it was like somebody had turned out a light because that hope was gone.”
“I’m still in the semi-numb part after you lose a loved one,” she added. “Even though I didn’t have him with me physically, he was always in my heart. I thought of him pretty much every day.”

Bissett’s adopted parents, Florence and John, have both since died. King-Eckersley said she has difficulty reconciling the loss:

“I’m just starting to get to know him,” she says. “In a way I’m going backwards because the getting to know him makes it sharper, makes the regret deeper.” She adds: “I saw a baby picture for the first time the other day.”

“I never held him but now I get to grieve for him,” she said.

Living with Lockerbie, the documentary which features King-Eckersley’s story also delves into more stories of the families of survivors, such as Anna-Marie Miazga and George White, the bereaved mother and ambulance driver who would marry years after the tragedy.

White was an first-responder on the scene at Lockerbie. He was the one who discovered the body of Miazga’s daughter, Suzanne Miazga, a 22-year-old social work student. White, who searched for survivors for hours the night of the bombing, was so moved by his experience, he wrote a letter to Miazga, which led to a long friendship. The two eventually married and now live in upstate New York together.

Living With Lockerbie will be broadcast on Dec. 21 BBC World News.

Image via Getty Images

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