When Lena Pierce was 14 years old, she gave birth to her first daughter, Eva May. She was caring for her child for only six months when the state of New York took the baby away, citing her unfit for motherhood at such a young age.
The baby was legally adopted, and with new parents came a new identity as well—Eva May became Betty Morrell.
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The separation between mother and daughter happened 82 years ago, and it wasn’t only until recently that Lena was reunited with her first-born.
Raised as an only daughter in a family in Long Island, Betty began her search for her birth mother fifty years ago, after her adoptive parents passed away.
Lena, on the other hand, wondered for 82 years what has become of her daughter after she was taken away.
Finally reunited for the first time, Lena and Betty embraced each other in an emotional reunion on January 15, 2016, inside the lobby of the Greater Binghamton Airport in New York.
Betty, now 82, shared, “I’m not alone anymore.”
And she’s definitely not. Following the reunion, she learned that not only is her birth mother still alive, but she also has sisters and brothers. “I have my mother and I have sisters and brothers. It’s surreal, but so wonderful, to be together again after all this time.”
Lena, who is now 96, is a great-grandmother. However, despite the many loved ones surrounding her, she said that she still worried about her first-born, who was taken away from her in 1933.
It took 50 years for Betty to find her mother, and it was no easy task. Speaking about her journey, she shared that her aunt “slipped” one day when she said that her real name was Eva and she was born in Utica. While these clues were just the beginning, it propelled her to begin her search. There were a few setbacks, as her adoption was a closed case. However, she called the two hospitals in Utica and was able to narrow her search, eventually finding her birth certificate.
With the help of her granddaughter, she found more clues via ancestry.com, where she found Millie Hawk, one of Lena’s daughters. ‘There was no connection. Nothing to tie me to anybody. And so, ya know, when it came through and she was alive, and I had been talking to her on the phone . . . it was like, it’s all gone. My life is complete at this point.”
The reunion between mother and daughter was an emotional one, and as they embraced one another with tears in their eyes. They spent the following day with friends and family as well.
They plan on continuing their relationship, even as Betty returns to her family in Florida, and as Lena returns to her new home in Pennsylvania.