A MAN who was left in a London phone box as a baby during Christmas 1966 has uncovered his Irish roots following an emotional search for his biological family.
Chris Mason also discovered more about his Italian heritage in an episode of the latest series of ITV's Long Lost Family: Born Without Trace.
However, his fascinating journey took him not to Ireland or Italy, but to the United States.
Speaking on the show as he prepared to undertake his search, Chris said that despite his start in life, he was always concerned about his birth mother and what drove her to take such desperate action.
"It must have been horrendous really for my birth mother," he said.
"I've always been more concerned for her than for me because you don't know what situation she was in.
"I just wonder what happened to her, really."
Chris was found in a phone box on Kennings Way, Lambeth, London on December 23, 1966 and knew nothing of his biological family until a DNA test taken after the passing of his adoptive parents.
The results showed he had both Irish and Italian heritage but the case went cold until the Long Lost Family team got involved.
Their research led them to Tampa in Florida, where Chris met family members for the first time, including his biological father who never knew of his existence.
While there are joyful scenes as Chris is reunited with his relatives, his search is also bittersweet and reveals some difficult disclosures.
Throughout the course of his search, Chris discovered that his birth mother was an Irish woman named Elizabeth Clarke, who was born in Dublin in 1938.
She emigrated with her family to England, where she met and married a US serviceman before relocating to Portland, Maine and went on to have three children.
However, the relationship was turbulent and the couple separated.
Elizabeth then met Dominic, an Italian emigrant, and became pregnant with Chris.
She eventually went back to her husband but he kicked Elizabeth and her children out when he discovered she was pregnant with Dominic's child.
With no other option, a pregnant Elizabeth returned to her family in England with her three young children, but found no support from her strict Irish Catholic parents.
As Chris' maternal half-sister Marie explained on the show, Elizabeth's husband ordered her to return to the US.
Marie described her father as a 'cruel bastard' and said that Elizabeth feared Chris would 'not have a good life' under him.
Instead, the distraught mother took the heartbreaking decision to leave the newborn boy in the phone box before returning to America with her three older children.
Life past, present and future
Although wondering what might could been, Chris expressed gratitude for the life he has had, as well as the life ahead of him with his newfound family.
"It's a shame that Elizabeth didn't go to [Dominic], because I think her life would have been better as well, and maybe her other children," he said.
"But if it hadn't have happened how it happened, I wouldn't have a beautiful wife and four beautiful kids and a beautiful sister."
The full story of Chris' search for his biological family can be seen on series 5 episode 1 of Long Lost Family: Born Without Trace on ITVX.