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Published Friday May 15th, 2009 at 3:39pm

Original Article by Alison Smith Squire

It should have been such an emotional meeting - two sisters, bothadopted as babies, finally getting together after 35 years. Theythought they would fall into each other's arms and share an instinctivebond. Instead, within hours of meeting for the first time, they were atdaggers drawn, a fierce sibling rivalry having erupted almost at once.Here, Ann Beavan and Judi Smith talk about thepersonality clash that drove them apart.

Ann, left, and Judi when they were first reunited.

Ann, 45, is a nurse and lives alone in Warminster, Wiltshire.

She says: The woman sitting opposite me in the hotel restaurant in Southampton was my mirror image in so many ways.

We didn't look identical, but we shared so many facial expressions and mannerisms that it was obvious we were closely related.

But that is where the similarities between my older sister and me ended.

I was adopted as a toddler, and this was the first time I had metJudi. But within minutes of sitting down to dinner, it was clear wewere not going to get on.

I quickly got the distinct impressionthat Judi, my older sister by six years, disapproved of me. By the endof the evening, I was certain.

First, she made it veryclear that she didn't drink alcohol on health grounds. I noticed herroll her eyes when I ordered a glass of wine, and I felt veryself-conscious as I sat there, sipping my drink.

Then, after asking me about my career in nursing, she started criticising me for working too hard.

Atthe time, I was a healthcare manager, and that, she decided, was thereason she was a mother and I wasn't - without even trying to find outwhy I didn't have children.

When the conversation turned toour birth mother, she seemed to relish telling me that she'd alreadytracked her down in London and had met her. Nor was that all.

She had discovered there were actually five siblings in all, but that only the two of us had been adopted.

She wanted to know if I would like to help her trace other relatives - but for me she was moving too fast.

I'dexpected to build up a closeness with Judi, but straight away she mademe feel I was just another person she had managed to track down in herfamily tree - another box ticked - and now she was ready to move on tothe next.

I explained that I'd never felt any desire to contact my birth family, which seemed to annoy her.

Butthat's the truth. I didn't even know I had a living blood relative, letalone a sister, until I was 35 and I received a letter from Judi out ofthe blue.

I always knew I was adopted, but that was all Iever wanted to know. The reason was quite simple: I'd had an unhappychildhood with my adoptive parents, so not only did the thought ofhaving to cope with another family not appeal, it actually terrifiedme.

I was never told why my birth parents had given me up. All I grew upknowing was this: that having spent some time in foster care, I wastaken in by a man named Arthur, who ran a shoe shop in Warminster, andhis wife Eileen, when I was two years old.

They had alreadyadopted a son 18 months older than me, and the story went that it wasmy adoptive brother who 'picked' me at the children's home.

Butany chance we might have had at being a close, loving family wasshattered when Eileen suffered a heart attack and died, aged 45. I wasonly seven at the time, and all I understood was that the person I hadcalled Mummy was gone.

After Eileen's death, our homewasn't a happy place and I left as soon as I could, finding a live-injob in a care home when I was only 16.

Later, I qualified as a nurse - but the older I got, the more determined I was not to delve into the past.

Yetin February 1998, when I opened a letter from social services tellingme a woman relative had tracked me down, I found I was hugely excited.

When I discovered it was a blood sister, I couldn't wait to meether. Judi and I exchanged a few letters and spoke on the phone.

Shetold me she had been adopted at six weeks old, that she'd tracked ourbirth mother several years before, and had been searching for me forall this time.

Six weeks later, we arranged to meet in a Southampton hotel, midway between our two homes.

I had expected to feel an instinctive bond, and straight away I was amazed to see we shared many mannerisms.

Bothof us talk a lot and share gestures such as wagging a finger toemphasise what we are saying. But as our first meeting wore on, Judi'spointing finger became more tiresome.

'I think it's amistake for women to work such long hours and put their career beforeeveryone else,' she lectured, insinuating that my childlessness was ofmy own making.

I must admit, for my part, I felt a pang of envy when Judi told meshe had a four-year-old son. I had tried to get pregnant with twodifferent long-term partners, but it never happened, and it was hurtfulnow to be sitting there and be judged for being childless.

It simply wasn't true that I'd made a conscious decision to put my career first.

If motherhood had ever happened, I would have been thrilled. ButJudi, whose manner seemed so angry, didn't seem to notice she wasupsetting me.

Still, as we said our goodbyes, I tried not to show how much she'dupset me and focused on the extraordinary fact that I had finally metmy sister.

I reasoned that things would improve once we got to know each other a little better.

How wrong I was. A few weeks later, we booked a weekend trip toFrance - a country we both loved - but then ended up having an almightystand-up row on the way there over the most ridiculous thing.

There we were in the train carriage, in front of strangers, arguing about whether religion was truly helpful in life or not.

Theweekend went rapidly downhill after that, with the most awful silencesinterspersed with flare-ups as disagreed about everything from how tospend our day to the world at large.

I can honestly say that no one has ever irriatated me quite as much.

Judi continually compared me to our mother, whom she'd first met years before and who was by then living in London.

I tried my best to like her, I really did - but as the months went by, our relationship worsened.

Once a week, I made a huge effort to to see her, making thefour-hour round trip to her home in Brighton. But she never once seemedgrateful. Instead, she would just moan that I had brought my JackRussell puppy along.

She couldn't understand the bond I hadwith him at all. It really hurt that she refused to let him in hergarden, let alone the house, saying that her partner was allergic todogs.

A few months later, we tried to have what they call 'post-adoption counselling' to try to heal the rift

But I used to dread the sessions. Judi would always take over,making it clear how unhappy she was with her life, while I just satthere, tears running down my cheeks.

The final straw camewhen I discovered she had taken a photo of me to show our birth mother- who had denied all knowledge of my existence.

Judi hadalways said she was adopted because our birth mother was so young whenshe had her; but neither of us could work out why I had been adopted.

Ihad always imagined that one day I would pluck up the courage tocontact her myself, so I was horrified when she refused even toacknowledge me. It was so hurtful - like being rejected all over again.

A few weeks later, Judi sent me a strange birthday present -an imitation voodoo doll with 'For Anger Management' written on it.Perhaps she thought it was funny, but for me it was the final straw.

Eventually,after three tumultuous years, I felt so emotionally drained, I decidedto cut off all contact with Judi - something she seemed rather pleasedabout.

At that point, I took some satisfaction in deletingher phone number from my address book. For the next five years, wedidn't speak.

To be honest, we might never have seen one anotheragain, but a year ago, out of the blue, I received an invitation toJudi's 50th birthday, and as soon as I saw it my heart leapt.

She still irritates me sometimes, but she has mellowed and we've been able to piece together a new beginning.

It's almost as if we had to go through those arguments and test each other to the limit before we could really get on.

I guess we had a lifetime of sibling rivalry to squeeze into threeyears - but finally we are managing to come through the other side andfind some common ground.

Judi Smith, 51, lives in Brighton. A former telegraphist who once deciphered Morse Code, she is now retired on health grounds. She has a son, Alex, 14, and is amicably separated from his father Roger, an engineer.

Judi says: Perhaps it was jealousy, but I just couldn't stop myself.

There I was, sitting opposite my new-found little sister, and I found myself comparing every detail of her life to my own.

Fora start, she arrived in designer jeans with her hair beautifully cut.She was slim and was soon telling me about her well-paid job and howshe lived in a beautiful three-bedroom house.

At the time,I had a young child, and although my partner Roger and I were justsurviving financially, it seemed as if Ann had everything I didn't.

I couldn't help but feel she was bragging about how well she'd done for herself.

Lookingback now, I can see it probably wasn't intentional. In fact, I thinkshe was really just seeking my approval as the older sister.

The problem was that I couldn't help envying her life.

Materialpossessions have never been high up on my list of must-haves - I'drather spend spare cash on a book - but our semi needed work on it atthe time, and there she was casually dropping into the conversationthat she was having a new conservatory put in, and a loft conversion.

SoI hit back by saying she worked too hard. I suppose, because I was herbig sister, I wanted her to need me. I wanted to be the one to make adifference to her life.

In fact, it was obvious that she was very capable and had made a great life for herself.

Perhapsit was a little bitchy, but I was feeling incredibly upset that shedidn't seem thrilled, or even grateful, that I had found her.

Ithad taken me 20 years and hundreds of hours poring over documents totrack her down, and yet she didn't really seem that bothered that wehad found each other at last.

And when I tried to tell her everything I had found out about our family, she didn't want to know.

Iwas adopted when I was six weeks old, when my mother was 17, and grewup in a happy family unit in Eastbourne. When I was 18, I decided Iwanted to track down my family.

I found my mum when I was 23, and for the first nine months we metregularly. But then our meetings dwindled - probably because shewouldn't talk about what happened.

When I found Ann, I washoping she would want to help me piece more of the jigsaw together. Butshe just wasn't interested. Didn't she want to know anything about hergenes, or possible inherited illness?

I was shocked. Thereshe was, a nurse, and she showed such a lack of curiosity. I couldn'thelp getting angry, and I found her to be very stubborn.

Shesays I have strong views, but she's just as opinionated. On thatweekend away in France, she got on my nerves so much that I walked offwith the car keys and left her stranded.

I hated her habit of going all quiet when she was upset. She is thetype of person who seems calm and unflappable, but when she's upset sheclams up, which I found very frustrating.

When I visited her home, I couldn't help but notice how exquisitely furnished it was, and how everything had to be just so.

As for the puppy, well, she really spoilt him - and it's not my fault that my partner happens to be allergic to dogs, is it?

Iwas keen to make our relationship work, so I agreed to go to thecounselling sessions with her. But it was no real surprise that theycouldn't help bring us together.

She seemed to takeeverything I did the wrong way. I was as surprised and hurt as Ann whenour birth mother refused to acknowledge her as her daughter after Itold her about our meetings; more so because they look so alike.

Itried to defuse the situation by sending Ann a joke voodoo doll - butshe even took that the wrong way and was deeply offended.

Ihave to say, it wasn't really a surprise when our relationship fizzledout. But that didn't mean I didn't think about Ann over the years thatfollowed.

There were times when I came close to picking upthe phone, but each time I lost my nerve. Then, as my 50th birthdayapproached, I started thinking about Ann again.

I was in twominds about whether I should invite her. I didn't want to open oldwounds, but life is too short to continue with such a feud. I'm so gladnow that I went with my instinct and sent the invitation.

Itwas actually really good to see her again. We've talked everythingthrough and agreed to accept our differences. Being opinionated andstrong willed is clearly a family trait.

There is still sometension between us. The most difficult issue is that our mother won'teven talk about Ann, let alone meet her.

She won't say why: she just sticks to her guns - which is so incredibly hurtful for Ann.

Butat least there is some solace now in knowing that we have one another -even if we do still bicker at times, and have squabbles.

I suppose it's just what sisters do the world over.