Mix-Race Baby Was Given Up for Adoption by Biological White Parents Because of Her Skin Color

A mixed-race baby girl born into a white home was put up for adoption because she was born in apartheid South Africa. A white couple in the UK adopted her, and her parents told everyone at home that she had died. 

Living with an identity crisis can be damaging to people’s emotional well-being. Often, adopted children spend their entire lives answering questions about themselves, and their search for self-fulfillment is never-ending. 

Sara-Jayne Makwala King underwent the same sentiments, feeling different from everyone around her. She was mixed-race, and she hardly encountered any other child like her where she lived. 

Sara-Jayne with her adoptive mother. [Left] Sara-Jayne. [Right] | Photo: instagram.com/thisissjking

She grew up in Crowhurst, a small village in Surrey, England. She and her brother were both adopted, but unlike her, he was white. Despite having a loving adoptive family, she couldn’t stop questioning her own identity. 

Sara-Jayne spent a pleasant childhood, but being a biracial kid in a white neighborhood made her feel like a fish out of water. Being different meant attracting unnecessary attention from people, and kids often stared at her and played with her hair.

Growing up, she lacked a sense of belonging. Her adoptive parents tried their best to make her feel comfortable. While she knew about her adoption, her family declined to share details about her birth parents or why she was adopted.

Over time, Sara-Jayne succeeded in discovering that she was from South Africa. But having so many questions with nobody to answer them led to anxiousness and depression. Soon, her self-isolation intensified, and she became more withdrawn. 

While promoting her book on the radio, she mentioned her birth father’s name, and astonishingly, Twitter users sprang into action.

At 13, she overdosed and attempted suicide. While she failed, she indulged in self-harming behaviors and developed an eating disorder. When she couldn’t endure the mystery anymore, she went to her parent’s room to find details about her past.

While snooping, she stumbled upon a letter addressed to her. When she opened the letter, she was astounded by what she had read. Her birth mother wrote it and sent it only a year after she was born. 

The letter contained the heart-wrenching story of her adoption. After reading it, she realized why her adoptive parents had kept it a secret. As per the letter, she was born in South Africa, and her biological mother was a white woman. 

The note further said that her birth mom had met a South African man in the 1970s. After finishing college, her mother accompanied the man to South Africa, where they began living together and working for a hotel in Johannesburg. 

After some time, tensions arose between the two, and Sara-Jayne’s mother met a black hotel chef. Their romantic entanglement happened when South Africa was under apartheid, and interracial relationships were forbidden.

To make matters worse, her mother became pregnant. Resultantly, she ended her affair with the black man. Sara-Jayne was born sometime in 1980. She appeared white at birth, so her birth mom thought she was her husband’s child. 

They named her “Karoline” and started living as any family would. After a few weeks, Sara-Jayne’s mom noticed that she was biracial. She told her husband and their doctor everything due to the fear of being convicted and her baby’s safety.


The couple and their doctor concocted a plan. They told their family and friends that their baby had a kidney disease and required medical help in London. It was all an act to get Sara-Jayne safely out of South Africa. 

Her mom put her up for adoption in London, and soon, a British couple adopted her. Fortunately, Sara-Jayne landed with an affectionate adoptive family. Back home, her mother knew she’d be asked questions about the baby’s whereabouts.

So she came up with another plan to ensure her forbidden affair never came to light. She told everyone that her daughter succumbed to her medical condition and passed away in London. 

The realization that her birth mom had given her up and even orchestrated a story about her death intensified Sara-Jayne’s depression. She thought it was disgusting that parents would abandon their children because of skin color. She told BBC: 

“The one person on Earth who is supposed to love you, and care for you, and nurture you no matter what, was able to do what my biological mother had done, which was to give away her child.” 

Through it all, Sara-Jayne continued to stay strong and even completed her law and journalism degrees from the University of Greenwich and the University of Canterbury. She also reached out to her biological mom through the adoption agency.


While her birth mom responded, she said she didn’t want to communicate further. Her callous response and lack of remorse or apology shattered Sara-Jayne. Soon afterward, Sara-Jayne landed a job in Dubai and carved a successful radio career.

Sadly, her tragic past and self-destructive behaviors made her lose her job in Dubai. She realized she needed help, and she discovered that rehab in South Africa was affordable.

As she boarded the plane to Johannesburg, she felt a strange sense of belonging. Everything felt familiar, and she was finally home. Fortunately, she ran into her half-brother, her birth mom’s other child, and surprisingly, his response was warm.

After constantly moving between South Africa and the UK, Sara-Jayne moved to South Africa. She owned everything about herself and formally changed her name to “Sara-Jayne,” after abandoning the name on her South African birth certificate, “Karoline King.”

In 2017, she released an autobiography containing her adoption story and her life afterward. While promoting her book on the radio, she mentioned her birth father’s name, and astonishingly, Twitter users sprang into action. 

Soon, she had her biological father’s number, and to her surprise, he was delighted to hear from her. After a week, the daddy-daughter reunion happened at a coffee shop in a shopping mall in Johannesburg. 

When she met her biological dad, the two couldn’t stop crying and embracing. Sara-Jayne called it “the best day of her life.” She also added her dad’s last name to her own and became “Sara-Jayne Makwala King. Regarding the heartwarming reunion, she said:

“It suddenly dawned on me, I am someone’s daughter. I am someone’s daughter, and I belong.”

After meeting her birth father and half-brother and settling down in Cape Town as a radio host, she felt complete. Amidst the heartbreak and chaos, she finally owned her identity as a black South African woman. More power to Sara-Jayne!

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.

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