96-year-old woman who gave up baby as teen reunites with biological daughter 82 years later
People say that you should wait for the best things, even if it takes a lifetime.
Lena Pierce had been separated from her daughter for more than 80 years, but on a cold, snowy day in January 2016, Lena was finally reunited with the baby girl she had to give up as a teenager in 1933.
Lena was born in 1919. Her hard life began when she was very young and her father died. Before they moved to central New York, she and her mother traveled a lot.
Lena got pregnant when she was 13 years old. On February 11, 1933, in Utica, New York, she had a daughter named Eva Mae. But after six months, the state took her daughter away because she was a ward of the state.
Eva Mae was given up for adoption and raised as Betty Morrell by a family on Long Island. She was an only child who wanted to have brothers and sisters. She didn’t know that her biological mother had other kids who would be excited to meet her one day.
Betty never thought twice about her family until a kid from the neighborhood told her she was adopted.
“I didn’t even know what adopted meant,” she said according to ABC News.
She asked her mother about it, and her mother told her it was true and that her birth mother was dead.
“I understand why she said that,” Betty said. “She didn’t want me to look.”
— My Statesman (@MyStatesman) February 6, 2016
Betty didn’t do anything with it for years, until her mother died and little clues began to show. Her aunt told everyone that Betty’s previous name was Eva and that she was born in Utica.
It took Betty 50 years to find her birth mother because of this.
“I know I was loved and had a wonderful family. There was that missing link. It just kept driving me.”
She started by calling every hospital in Utica. She heard back from one who had two babies on February 11, 1933, and one of them was a girl named Eva.
— PennLive.com (@PennLive) February 6, 2016
In 1983, the adoption agency sent Betty a letter, but since her adoption was over, she couldn’t find out any more information. Even though it was sad, Betty kept living her life on Long Island until she moved to Florida.
Betty wouldn’t start looking for her biological mother again until one of her grandchildren, Kimberly Miccio, was 12 years old.
Kimberly looked for her grandmother’s long-lost family for 20 years before she finally found them in September 2015.
She used Ancestry.com to find a distant relative, who then put her in touch with one of Lena Hawk’s daughters, Millie Hawk.
At last, some answers.
It was exciting to find out that Betty had at least one more sibling and that her biological mother was still alive.
“I’ve got a mother! And I’ve got a sister!”
She found out later that she had two brothers and four sisters.
Lena was just as happy to hear that her daughter had been found as Betty was to find her mother after all these years.
After talking to Betty, Millie went to see her mother in Hallstead, Pennsylvania, who was about to play bingo at the fire station next to her apartment and told her the good news.
“She broke down and started crying. She was crying so much she couldn’t even go to play bingo,” Millie said.
Once they could talk on the phone, they made plans to meet up in person. The emotional reunion took place at the Greater Binghamton Airport one day in January 2016. It was remarkable not only because of how much time had passed, but also because of how old each woman was: the daughter was 82, and her mother was 96.
“It was amazing. Both of them were crying,” Kimberly said.
After they saw each other again, they stayed in touch, and Betty and her sister Millie became close.
Betty said, “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.”
Just a few months later, in October 2016, Lena died. They were able to get back together just in time.