They say the best things are worth waiting for, even if it takes a lifetime.
For more than 80 years, Lena Pierce was separated from her daughter, but on one cold, snowy day in January 2016, Lena was finally reunited with the little girl she was forced to abandon as a teenager in 1933.
Lena, born in 1919, had a difficult life that began with the death of her father when she was still very young. She and her mother traveled frequently before settling in central New York.
When Lena was 13, she became pregnant. On February 11, 1933, she gave birth to a daughter, Eva Mae, in Utica, New York. But after six months, her daughter was taken away from her due to her status as a ward of the state.
Eva Mae was adopted by a family on Long Island and grew up as Betty Morrell. She was an only child and longed for siblings. Little did she know that her biological mother had several children and that one day everyone would look forward to meeting her.
Betty never questioned her family until a neighborhood child told her she was adopted.
“I didn’t even know what adopted meant,” she said, according to ABC News.
She questioned her mother and confirmed the adoption and was told her birth mother was dead.
“I understand why she said that,” Betty said. “She didn’t want me to look.”
Betty left it alone for years until her mother died and little clues started to reveal themselves. Her aunt revealed that Betty’s name was Eva and she was born in Utica.
That’s what set Betty on a 50-year journey to find her birth mother.
“I know I was loved and had a wonderful family. There was this missing link. It just kept driving me.”
She began contacting every hospital in Utica. She heard about a girl who gave birth to two children on February 11, 1933, including a daughter named Eva.
In 1983, Betty received a letter from the adoption agency, but since her adoption was closed she was unable to find out any more information. Although disappointing, Betty continued to live her life on Long Island before moving to Florida.
It wouldn’t be until one of her grandchildren, Kimberly Miccio, was 12 years old, that Betty would restart her search for her biological mother.
For two decades, Kimberly searched for her grandmother’s long-lost family, and in September 2015, she finally caught a break.
She found a distant relative on Ancestry.com, who then connected her with Millie Hawk, one of Lena’s daughters.
Not only was it exciting to learn that Betty had at least one other sibling, but they also learned that Betty’s biological mother was still alive!
“I’ve got a mother! And I’ve got a sister!”
She later learned that she had four sisters and two brothers.
While Betty was ecstatic to be reunited with her mother after all these years, Lena was just as excited to learn that her daughter had been found.
After speaking with Betty, Millie visited her mother, who was about to play bingo at the fire station next to her apartment in Hallstead, Pennsylvania, and told her the good news.
“She broke down and started crying. She cried so much she couldn’t even play bingo,” Millie said.
Once the two were able to speak on the phone, they set up an appointment to reconnect in person. The emotional reunion – remarkable not only for the time that had passed but also for the ages of each woman, an 82-year-old daughter and a 96-year-old mother – took place one day in January 2016 at the airport of Greater Binghamton.
“It was wonderful. They both cried,” Kimberly said.
After their reunion, the two kept in touch, and Betty developed a strong relationship with her sister Millie.
“It’s an experience that not many get at my age or my mother’s age,” Betty said. “It’s the best thing that’s happened to me.”
The two were able to reunite just in time as Lena died just a few months later in October 2016.
This story is so precious! It’s unbelievable that Betty searched for 50 years, but in the end, it finally paid off.