Latest Articles on Reverse Phone Lookup and People Search
Posted August 28th, 2012
Al and Ken Quinn are two brothers who never thought they would see each other again. In 1947, their parents divorced and took each brother to different states. Yet, 65 years later, after many years apart, the two brothers reunited in Fort Meyers, Florida at the Southwest Florida International Airport.
Al was in a state of jubilation waiting at the airport for his little brother to turn the corner and appear.
“My insides are jumping up and down saying hallelujah,” said Al.
The few minutes waiting for his brother were some of the longest minutes of Al’s life and ones he will never forget.
“I remember him when he was just a little small kid with some freckles” said Al.
Once the brothers saw each other and reunited, they could feel and remember the connection. Al recognized his brother’s face even though it has been more than six decades.
“Is that my little brother? Sure he is. Hahaaaa,” said. “Give me a big hug. God did you grow big!”
The brothers laughed and hugged as if they had never been separated.
Al has Ken to thank for the reunion. After wondering about his brother’s whereabouts, Ken searched the internet and found an address. He sent a letter hoping the addressee was his long lost brother, and within days Ken received a reply.
“I received a letter in the mail asking if he knew me,” said Al.
Al hosted Ken and his wife and took them sightseeing in Southwest Florida. The brothers had fun while catching up on lost time.
“We’re gonna yak and yak do some more yaking and then I’m gonna take them around and show them Fort Myers” said Al.
For Al and Ken, their dreams came true. Their lives as they know it will never be the same.
“Here we are in paradise. Oh, this is paradise I’ll tell you!” said Ken.<Read More>
Posted August 27th, 2012
Brenda Cofer Trumbo, 58 year old San Clemente resident, met her half-sister Wanda Cofer Long for the first time. For nearly six decades the sisters were unaware each existed which made their reunion bittersweet.
An 11-year-old Brenda discovered a photo hidden away in a linen closet. The photograph depicted a little girl with rosy cheeks. Brenda inquired about the picture and was told by her mother that the little girl was Wanda Sue, her half sister from her father’s first marriage. Wanda Sue had three brothers from the first marriage.
Though Brenda was still a child, she became increasingly curious about her newly discovered siblings.
“I tucked that little piece of information away and always wanted to find out where my brothers and sister were,” said Brenda.
Brenda’s father never mentioned he had four children. He lived two separate lives and the first set of children only saw him on occasion. Wanda never even knew her father had remarried. She recalls a special time at five years old when she saw her father and he gave her ballerina slippers. That memory stayed with her and is fresh in her mind to this day.
“The first wife wasn’t very cooperative letting him see the children,” Brenda said. “They were kept apart, and they didn’t realize they were kept apart. And my dad never talked about it.”
Brenda grew up to became a motorcycle sales rep. Her job took her to many places and every time she visited the Southeast she would contact all of the Cofers in the area hoping to find her long lost sister. She had a chance conversation with her long lost brother Kenneth Cofer but they did not figure out they were related until their future reunion. He thought Brenda was crazy when she contacted him.
“I started asking questions,” she said. “He thought it was some crazy lady. He got me off his phone. End of story.”
Brenda was determined and would never give up. She met an acquaintance, Kaye Van Fleet, after playing a game online and realized she was from her hometown. Brenda mentioned she was searching for her siblings and Kaye asked her about her father’s birthplace and where he lived. Kaye used the internet to find Brenda’s long lost siblings.
“That was on a Monday night,” Brenda said. “By Saturday night, she called me at 6:30 and left a message … hysterically sobbing. … She said, ‘Please call me … I have found your brother!’”
“He wants to speak with you!” Kaye said. “He remembers you.”
Brenda found out that her half-brother Kenneth, at 17 years old, visited his father in Iowa and saw Brenda when she was four months old. Kenneth then returned to his home town, and his father moved away with his new family. The two families lost contact.
Brenda and Kenneth spoke on the phone for the first time.
“Everything just spilled out,” she said. “We talked 3½ hours.”
Kenneth told his half sister that he and Wanda were the only two siblings left. Their two brothers had passed away.
Brenda was a little more hesitant about contacting Wanda. She searched for her on Facebook and felt more comfortable writing her a message.
“Something about her face made me want to write her first,” Brenda said
Wanda replied to Brenda’s message within hours.
“I have been searching for years to find out information about my dad, Charlie Durham Cofer, who I never knew I remember seeing him one time when I was a little girl. I have prayed for years to find out something about my dad.”
The sisters talked by phone and Brenda was shocked to find out that Wanda was unaware her father had more children. She didn’t have pictures or memories of her father except for her treasured ballerina slippers.
The sisters later discovered that their father passed away in 1980 at age 73.
Brenda and her full sister Joanne Cofer Pottorff decided to travel together to visit Wanda.
At the airport, Wanda, her son and grandson ran towards the two ladies with a box of tissues in hand.
Brenda said. “They just grabbed us and hugged and kissed. It was like I had always known them.”
The entire family visited the home their father built and Brenda showed Wanda and Kenneth pictures of their father as he grew older. They spent many hours sharing stories and photos.
Though the reunion had to end, the siblings stay in contact regularly.
To me, family is everything,” said Brenda. “I always wanted to find those brothers and sister, but I knew they were so much older than me, there’s a good chance they could be dead. So to find this one brother and sister was pretty awesome.”<Read More>
Posted August 26th, 2012
For Chinh Doan and her family, graduation day held a higher meaning than degrees and accomplishments. In May, Chinh graduated from the University of Oklahoma and carried the college banner for the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. To add to her joys, her family was once again reunited after living 18 years in separate countries.
Chinh and her father Hoan Doan left Vietnam for the United States with the help of the Humanitarian Operations program in 1994. Tu Tran, Chinh’s mother, was held back from immigrating with her family. She was not permitted to leave the country because she was widowed and lacked the related documentation needed to prove her second marriage to Chinh’s father. The country was dealing with false immigrations at the time making it more difficult to prove her marital status.
Though Chinh and her mother stayed in contact, they still missed each other and found it difficult financially.
“When we first moved to the U.S., it started with letters, but those took a full month to mail back and forth, so it was very slow. We were able to use the phone, but that was also very expensive, and therefore rare,” Chinh said.
Thankfully, the introduction of electronic messaging made it possible for the family to talk more often and as Chinh grew she was able to visit her mother in Vietnam a few times. But, Chinh still felt a void without her mother present.
“I always had a relationship with my mother and was able to see her face, but she wasn’t able to be present for childhood milestones like the first day of school or prom.” Chinh said.
Chinh ramped up her efforts to reunite her family once she discovered her father was having some health problems. When she turned 21 years old, Chinh applied to be her mother’s sponsor, and gained help from the same Catholic charities that helped her family find a sponsor after emigrating from Vietnam.
“People don’t realize how much work goes into this — it’s not one simple application process; there are so many documents, fees and time conflicts which were so difficult to work into my school schedule,” Chinh said.
Chinh was tasked with several impossibilities, from finding a lawyer to raising money she did not have. She worked several jobs and sold crafts to Greek organizations in addition to studying for her degree.
In Vietnam, Tu Tran was busy gathering documentation to support the application but faced some difficulties. According to Chinh, Tu Tran had to contend with “monsoon season, a difficult Communist government, and the challenges of gathering information lost during the Vietnam War.”
Chinh was determined to get her mother to the United States to see her graduate, but as time passed and more legal difficulties ensued, the dream became more impossible.
“I was told no many times,” Chinh said. “Still, my friends, family and the OU community were so supportive it gave me the momentum to keep going.”
Chinh continued pressing on and found better attorneys while seeking the assistance of OU President David Boren and his son, U.S. Representative Dan Boren (OK-2).
Chinh’s hard work and determination finally paid off. Tu Tran received her permanent Visa just in time to see her one and only daughter graduate from college.
Tu Tran felt a great sense of pride and elation when she left Vietnam for the last time and reunited with her family never to leave them again. She was welcomed by not only her husband and daughter, but also her extended family and friends.
Chinh’s dream came true and she had her complete family with her on one of the most important days of her life.
“I still don’t feel like it’s actually real,” Chinh said. “When I see my parents together I have to pinch myself – when you dream something for so long and then finally see it happen, you don’t know what to do with it; it’s unreal. For my mother to see me graduate is really the cherry on top of it all.”
Tu Tran is proud of her daughter and the courage she portrayed growing up.
“I am very happy and proud for Chinh, especially with all she’s been through and the hardship of growing up without a mother. I am so proud of who she is today,” Tu Tran said.
Chinh’s parents are grateful they are together again. Hoan Doan has his wife by his side and is happy to have a complete family again.
“First, I want to thank our country and community of the past 18 years for these opportunities and I’m very excited my wife now gets to be a part of it. Secondly, I want for my daughter to take everything she has learned from this great school and apply it in her career as she continues to pursue her aspirations,” Hoan Doan said.
Tu Tran is looking forward to giving her daughter the tender care she missed growing up. She hopes Chinh’s studies will keep her close so she can cook for her and make up for lost time. The family knows that together they have the courage to get through anything and they know they will make it together.
Tu Tran said, “To those in our case who are separated I would say keep trying, never give up and eventually you will be reunited like we were.”<Read More>
Posted August 25th, 2012
A chance meeting on a softball field reunites war veterans Bobby Badeaux and Harold Kaiama who met 41 years ago during the war.
The two veterans met earlier in the year at a Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day celebration. They spoke about their lives, but neither mentioned their families.
“We were L Company Rangers 75th Infantry 101st Airborne Division,” Badeaux said. “At the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day celebration, we only talked for about 20 minutes, but mostly about the war. But we didn’t talk about our families.”
Their second encounter occurred at the semifinal softball games at Frasch Park. They would soon discover that their daughters both coached softball teams in the same division. Badeuax turned around when he heard someone say, “Hey there, Ranger!”
Badeaux, wearing his cap detailed with a Ranger patch and his Purple Heart, was holding his granddaughter Amelia when he heard his name. He knew the voice sounded familiar. He looked behind him and saw the image of his veteran war buddy, Kaiama. Though they had reunited at the veteran celebration, they were surprised to see each other again so soon.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Badeaux recalled. “I asked him, ‘What are you doing here?’ ”
“I’m a qualified Ranger myself and when I see a Ranger patch, it sparkles in my eyes,” Kaiama said. “When you see that patch or tags, it is really a shocking sight, so I can spot them from anywhere.”
The two men hugged and explained why they were present at the game. Their daughters were both head coaches of the softball teams in the Class 4A semifinals. Badeaux’s daughter, Callie Gautreaux coaches the Teurling Catholic Lady Rebels, and Kaiama’s daughter, Kelly Kaiama-Goodwin, coaches the Leesville Lady Wampus Cats.
“Neither one of us knew what our daughters did job-wise,” Badeaux said. “When he told me Leesville and I told him Teurlings, we both said, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if our daughters’ teams met in the finals?’ I said it sure would be. I told him we’d be pulling for them, and he said they’d be pulling for us.”
The veterans attended the championship game knowing they would meet again since their daughters’ teams both won the semifinal games. Before the game, Badeaux and Kaiama introduced their daughters, Gautreaux and Kaiama-Goodwin, to each other. The coaches wanted to meet again for a photo with their dads regardless of which team won the game.
“It was just an unbelievable experience,” Gautreaux said. “Who would’ve thought that my team would have faced his daughter’s team in the finals. That’s just unbelievable.”<Read More>
Posted August 24th, 2012
John Askey, a 64-year-old electrical engineering company owner, never knew he had any siblings. It came as a complete shock to him when he was contacted by a woman who claimed to be his long lost sister.
Askey knew he was adopted but he didn’t know that he was one of five children born to his birth parents. Askey never imagined he had siblings, for his main focus was to find his birth parents.
“Throughout life I have never thought ‘I wonder if I’ve got brothers and sisters’, it was always about where you came from, who your mum was, who your dad was, where you were born and asking why was I adopted,” Askey said.
Rita Holford, Askey’s sister, shook Askey’s world when she contacted him out of the blue. Askey was dumbfounded by the unexpected call. He had searched for his birth mother via social services but he never got anywhere. Ten years after giving up on his search he received a letter from an adoption agency about his siblings. He thought the letter was a mistake.
Holford told her brother he had four other siblings, and three were adopted as well. The oldest and youngest were raised by their mother. Askey told his sister he started looking for his birth parents after his adoptive parents passed away. He hit many dead ends until he discovered his mother used a fake maiden name on the birth certificate.
Askey was happy to reunite with someone from his birth family even if it wasn’t his parents.
“It just happened in a natural and normal way. If you have a mental picture of what you would like your sister to be, it would be like that,” he said. “I felt as though I had just put a soft pair of slippers on.”
Askey has siblings who grew up near him in the 1960s. One sister knew about her upbringing but she did not want any involvement with the family.
Askey, though excited about the recent turn of events, is still shocked at how it happened.
“It’s like a new beginning in a lot of ways,” he said. “When you think your life has seen all of its twists and its turns, you think you’ve got everything in its slot, something massive comes along and says ‘wow, you haven’t finished yet’. It’s like a rebirth.”
Holford said, “We’re all glad that we have found each other; we’ve all been so excited.”<Read More>
Posted August 23rd, 2012
Lori Mcinturff spent the last 50 years wondering if she would ever meet anyone in her birth family. After five decades of contemplation and hope, in the blink of an eye, her whole life changed for the better. Though Mcinturff thought about what it would be like to find her birth family, she never imagined she would reunite with her long lost brother after placing an ad on Craigslist.
Mcinturff grew up knowing she was adopted, but she never stopped longing to meet her birth parents. Though her adoptive family raised her with love and care, Mcinturff would never be truly whole in her heart until she reconnected with the part of her that was missing.
Years of searching led to dead ends until one day Mcinturff got her big break. She tracked down her original birth certificate and the process led her to the discovery of her birth parents’ death. She also found out she had a brother who was still living.
“I didn’t know I had a brother – a full blood brother – until about a month ago. It was my mission to find him and I had no idea how,” Mcinturff said.
With only a photo, a possible location, and a wish, Mcinturff decided to use Craigslist to post an ad hoping to find her brother or someone who knew him. She knew her brother lived in British Columbia but she did not have the specifics on his location. She randomly chose a town and it happened to be Victoria, the exact city where her brother lived.
“I thought, that’s a stupid idea, no one is ever going to read that. I clicked on Canada and all these towns came up, so I just picked one,” Mcinturff said.
Within hours, Mcinturff received an email from someone replying to her Craigslist ad. It was from a Matt Beaumont, her long lost brother.
“It was amazing. It was something that I never in my life thought would happen,” Mcinturff said.
The siblings used Skype to video chat and get acquainted.
“I remember covering up my face because I really wanted him to like me. I kept reaching up and touching his face, touching the monitor,” Mcinturff said.
The two enjoyed catching up and sharing their life stories. They are enthralled by their similarities from interests to appearance.
“Our lips are the same, our eyes, our ears – and we’re both vertically challenged,” Mcinturff said.
Mcinturff was so grateful about finding her brother that she sent Craigslist a thank you note.
Brother and sister are now reunited and Beaumont plans on moving near his long lost sister so the two can enjoy the rest of their lives together.<Read More>
Posted August 22nd, 2012
Jenice Overstreet, 71 years old, waited 49 years to reunite with the child she gave up for adoption. Meeting her daughter has given her a new lease on life and a sense of hope for her remaining years.
“I am so happy this is going to give me a reason to live, because I have said I am ready to go with God,” Overstreet said. “I have been looking for her a long time. This is going to be my new beginning for me, after all these years; 49 years. ”
Jenice Overstreet was a 21-year-old, Charleston, South Carolina resident, who suffered from alcoholism. She wanted to find a safe, caring home for her daughter.
“I went to the lawyer. I said, ‘you know I drink. You know I am an alcoholic. Please find her a good home.’”
The lawyer had a partner who was willing to take her daughter.
Betsy Craven-Bailey had a great upbringing and lived a fulfilling, fruitful life. Her adoptive parents have since passed away, but she only remembers a loving, caring home. Craven-Bailey had been searching for her biological mother for many years. Once Craven-Bailey’s adoptive parents died, she was even more adamant about finding her.
Craven-Bailey got the big break she wanted with the help of a friend. Her friend discovered a news story about a Janet Grammer who was shot at while working at a Wesconnett convenience store in 2005. Janet Grammer was Overstreet’s twin sister.
Craven-Bailey contacted the convenience store about the woman, Janet Grammer, and inquired if she still worked there.
She recalls, “They said, ‘No, she had just left.’ I was confused. He said, ‘She just left here a few minutes ago. Would you like to leave a message?’ I said I would like to call her,’ and he gave me her cell number.”
That phone called touched Grammer at a deep emotional level. She knew the anguish her twin sister experienced.
Grammer said, “The day she called me I cried so hard, because every time I turned around, my twin sister said, ‘Help me find her. Help me find her.’”
Craven-Bailey drove from her South Carolina home to meet her mother who had not seen her little baby in 49 years.
Mother and daughter met in a firm embrace.
A crying Overstreet said, “I am so happy.”
This reunion meant so much to Craven-Bailey.
“I have anticipated it for so many years, and here it is and don’t know what to think,” she said. “I’m very happy, very happy.”
Craven-Bailey told her mother she had a 28-year-old grandson and a 3-year-old great grandson. Craven-Bailey also discovered her German family heritage.
“Today is the happiest day in the world,” said Overstreet.<Read More>
Posted August 21st, 2012
Only Marilyn Berry knew the secret about her beloved daughter’s adoption and kept her existence silent until she found her 44 years later.
Berry wore a ring with four stones, the fourth symbolizing the child she gave up for adoption. Not even the baby’s father knew she was born and Berry has been holding onto the secret for more than four decades.
“This is my only truth in all these years,” Berry said addressing her ring. “I’ll know it’s for my four children, but everybody else will think that’s the mother and that’s the three children.”
No one knew Berry had a 46-year-old daughter named Susann Griffin. But Griffin knew the truth about her adoption and always wondered why her mother did it.
“I’ve always known I was adopted,” Griffin said.
Berry became pregnant with Griffin’s father while still married to her first husband. She was also the mother of two boys. Berry moved from New Hampshire to the South to regroup and maintain a more stable existence.
Just as Berry had tried to make sense of what was going on, her mother became ill with cancer back in New Hampshire. She was now faced with one of the most difficult decisions of her life.
“I said, ‘Doctor, I’ve got to get home to my mother,’” Berry said. “I said, ‘This is awful. I have to choose between my mother and my child,’ but I said, ‘I figure my child would have a better chance without me, right now.’”
Berry gave Griffin up for adoption and never looked back.
Griffin, now 45 years old and a wife and mother, put her name on a website for people to find biological relatives. She was concerned that she would need to be in contact with her biological family should her son require a transplant.
Berry found Griffin’s profile on a genealogy website. The eager mother discovered the name Bonne Robidas, Griffin’s birth name.
“I clicked on it, and somehow it brought me to another site,” Berry said. “Then, it brought me to something else, (and) it was Omnitrace (that led) me to Susann Griffin, age 44, of Pendleton, SC.”
Berry found Griffin’s profile on Facebook and noticed similarities in her daughter’s images.
“I go, ‘Well, that could be me from here down,” Berry said about Griffin’s face. “I was just kind of looking at it. Maybe it’s not.”
Though Berry was excited to have found her daughter, she was perplexed because she would need to tell her family about the secret she had been carrying for 44 years. Her own husband, Griffin’s biological father, Cider Berry, whom she married one year after she gave Griffin up for adoption, did not even know he had a daughter.
The secret wasn’t worth keeping anymore now that Griffin was found. She came clean with her husband and showed him a picture of his 44-year-old daughter.
“I just couldn’t believe what she went through all those years,” Cider Berry said. “I was happy Susann was there, but I was like, ‘I can’t imagine, on your birthday, going through all that.’”
Berry sent a message to Griffin asking her about her birth date and birthplace to make sure she was in fact her daughter.
“As soon as I opened it, I knew,” Griffin said.
Mother and daughter communicated via email and by phone.
“I had told her, initially, ‘If this will disrupt your family or your life, please don’t share this. If it’s going to ruin your life over it or any relationships, I’m fine with this,’” Griffin said. “But, she chose to share it.”
Griffin met her birth mother and introduced Berry to her adoptive parents. Thankfully, all became friends and Griffin did not blame her mother for putting her up for adoption.
“She did it for me, and I appreciate that, because I had a great life,” Griffin said. “I love living in the South. I’m glad I’m a Southerner. I’m supposed to be a Yankee!”<Read More>
Posted August 20th, 2012
Laurie Tragen-Boykoff jumped out of her skin as she waited in anticipation to meet her long lost pen pal at the Los Angeles International Airport. She trembled as she held a large sign with the image of a boy that read, “NICKY!! I’M LAURIE!”
After 25 years, Laurie, an Agoura Hills social worker, has reunited with the boy she met through the Christian Children’s Fund. In 1987, Laurie was emotionally transfixed to a plea by Sally Struthers on the television to participate in donor campaigns for children in developing countries.
A moved Laurie signed on to care for a child for $21 a month to provide him with the education, food and resources for him to thrive. The child was eight-year-old Nicky Mutoka from Zambia. Laurie sent monthly checks and also insisted on writing Nicky to establish a connection.
The pen pals became close and shared family photographs and letters. Laurie sent Nicky photos of her husband and each of her kids, Loren and Megan, as they grew. Nicky sent images of his family, including his parents and his brothers and sister, and drawings of his life in Zambia. Laurie kept a special manila envelope on her nightstand ready to accept the next correspondence from Nicky.
Laurie encouraged Nicky to do well with his studies and both promised they would always write. “I know that God knows the day when we are going to greet each other … not in letters,” he wrote.
Sadly, the correspondence came to an end.
The End of Contact
The Christian Children’s Fund had finished its work in Nicky’s village and moved on to another. Because the organization is not able to give out addresses, Laurie and Nicky lost contact.
According to Cynthia Price, spokeswoman for the organization now known as Child Fund International, sponsors were never permitted to connect directly with their children.
Life went on for a distraught Laurie. She remained active in her job assisting mentally disabled adults and her children grew and moved on to college. Even as the years passed, Laurie never stopped thinking about Nicky. She kept that three-inch thick envelope containing all of Nicky’s letters, photos and drawings.
Nicky also never forgot Laurie’s kindness and generosity.
Nicky’s family suffered financially and lived in a region stricken with poverty. They earned a meager living selling crops and eagerly awaited Laurie’s monthly checks to help them make ends meet. Laurie’s $21 paid for Nicky’s education, food, household items and medical care for his father who had arthritis. Nicky was one of five siblings and academically gifted among his family members. Even after he lost contact with his pen pal, he was unwavering in his desire to finish high school.
Nicky finally finished high school but did not have money for college. He worked for two years mining copper and performing other odd jobs working in dangerous conditions just to save enough money to further his education.
Nicky had also tried to obtain Laurie’s address from the charitable organization. He even sent two letters to a location he thought might be Laurie’s address, but they were returned.
Nicky eventually graduated from college with a degree in business. Just two years ago, his dreams became a reality when he received a job as an account salesman. His hard work, with Laurie’s financial help, finally paid off.
Nicky was serious about keeping his promise to stay in contact so he decided to search for Laurie on Facebook. At an internet café, he logged into Facebook and searched for her last name.
The search results revealed a 19-year-old Fullerton College student, Megan Boykoff. Nicky knew she must have been a member of Laurie’s family so he sent this message, “hi Megan, i thank God for facebook. am so convinced you must be from the family i have been looking for over 12 years or so now. my name is Nicky Mutoka from Zambia in Africa.”
Megan did not recognize the boy but she knew her mother might know who he was.
Laurie was waiting on a line at Starbucks when her phone rang. It was her daughter Megan.
“She said, ‘Did you ever know a boy named Nicky from Zambia?’ ” Laurie recalled. “And my heart just stopped.”
Back in Contact
The pen pals began a new campaign of communication, exchanging emails and phone calls. Nicky, now 32 years old, married and expecting a child, continually thanks Laurie for being the impetus he needed to make his dreams come true.
Laurie decided to gift Nicky and his expectant wife Ketty with a trip to California to reunite in person.
Meeting for the First Time
The day of the arrival Laurie was shaking with anxiety examining every face at the airport to see if it matched Nicky’s.
“I have honestly never seen her so on edge,” Laurie’s daughter said. “She’s always an excited and passionate woman, but she was on a whole other level that day.”
Nicky walked towards her with his wife on his arm and Laurie let out a scream. She ran towards the couple with her arms wide open and the two long lost pen pals met in a long embrace. As Laurie screamed again, Nicky wiped his eyes, feeling the emotion of the encounter.
“Oh my God! Wow!” he says. “Thank you, mum. Thank you.”<Read More>
Posted July 3rd, 2012
Brenda Rhensius filled the emptiness in her heart when she reunited with her long lost daughter after 48 years. When Brenda was a teenager, she became pregnant with her daughter, Joanne. Because she was young and without a husband, she felt strongly about giving her baby up for adoption.
Brenda, torn from the experience, went on to live a successful life even with an empty heart. She got married, had a son, and became the first female director of a European merchant bank.
Brenda had assumed that after 48 years her daughter was not interested in finding her. She was astonished to discover her daughter was not only looking for her, but was also living in the same country of South Africa.
“I couldn’t believe she had been found, let alone that we had both ended up living thousands of miles away in the same country,” Brenda says.
Brenda waited for the day her daughter turned 18 so she could start trying to locate her. For 30 long years, she searched endlessly and lost hope at every wrong turn. Her sadness was evident every year on Joanne’s birthday.
“Every year on her birthday my insides felt like they were being ripped out and that never went away, even after 48 years,” Brenda said. “I just stayed in bed that day; I couldn’t do anything. I had a ‘precious’ box, which contained one or two photographs of her and I would sit and gaze at them.
At the end of her rope, Brenda contacted the Long Lost Family TV show for help. Within a few short months, the show told Brenda they had found Joanne.
Joanne was an English teacher living in Durban. She had a husband and was living with him and her adoptive mother. Her adoptive father had passed.
The Early Days
At 19 years old, Brenda felt too guilty to raise Joanne and she did not want to embarrass her parents by raising an illegitimate child.
“My parents felt it was the right thing and actually I thought it would be the best thing for my baby too – there was a huge stigma on illegitimate children and I thought her only chance was to grow up with a mum and a dad,” Brenda recalls.
Brenda visited with a mother and baby unit to birth her baby and set up adoption proceedings. She spent six weeks there caring for Joanne in a limited capacity.
“It was hard. We were only allowed to feed and change our children – not play with them – and I was always getting into trouble for going back into the nursery to cuddle her and tickle her feet… things that mothers would normally do,” Brenda said.
The adoption was traumatic for Brenda. The nurse took Joanne from her arms and walked out of the room as if the baby were an object.
“She took her off me and walked out and that was it – it was horrible and so brutal,” Brenda said. “I could hear her new mother squeal with delight through the walls and I felt so bereft.”
Brenda was so distraught she took to the streets of the suburb to which Joanne was taken to find her. She soon realized she would not be able to live in the same area if she wanted to find closure. Brenda moved to New Jersey, married, had a son, and worked hard to push away the feelings of pain and loss.
“I gave my all to my career to try to forget my pain over Joanne,” she says. “But it didn’t work. After losing her I shut down emotionally and didn’t let people get too close. I stayed that way until I met her again.”
Joanne had a happy childhood with her adoptive parents. At 30 she moved to South Africa and tried locating her mother via the Friends Reunited web page. All she had was her maiden name, “Brenda Parr.”
“I always knew I was adopted but it never worried me because I had really loving adoptive parents,” Joanne said. “Of course I was curious over the years, but I didn’t want to upset my mum and also I assumed that Brenda must be married and have children. I thought if I did track her down her husband might not even know she had an adopted child. I was perfectly happy with my life and so I didn’t see any reason to upset hers.”
Little did Joanne know, Brenda made it her life’s purpose to find her daughter.
The reunion was priceless.
“When we finally met it was so emotional. All I could say was, ‘You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful’, and gave her a great big hug,” Brenda said. “There was no screaming or crying, we just sat down and started talking and instantly it was as if those 48 years apart had just faded away. Until that day I’d always felt a part of me was missing, but meeting her made me feel whole again.”
The two discovered they had a lot in common. They both named their pets “Tripod” and shared a love for animals.
“I like drama and singing and I’m very outgoing but my adoptive parents were very shy, quiet, gentle people – I always felt totally different to them,” Joanne said. “Brenda is much more like me. We actually found ourselves finishing each other’s sentences and we have the same mannerisms – we both talk with our hands and we both waffle!”
They were also astonished that they had both moved to South Africa. Brenda has since moved back to New Jersey, but the mother and daughter spend most of their time chatting via Skype. They plan to visit again in June.
Joanne said she considers Brenda her second mother and didn’t realize she had emptiness in her heart until they reunited.
“Now everything makes sense – I know where I came from and it’s fantastic having this whole new family,” Joanne said.
Brenda is grateful for the reunion. She can finally put the pieces of her life back together.
“I was always prepared for the fact that if I did find Joanne, she might slap my face because she might think I just didn’t want her,” Brenda said. “Now we are great buddies and the sadness at being apart for 48 years has gone. It just shows you should never give up hope. My family is complete.”
Brenda can now release the pain she experiences every year on Joanne’s birthday. This year was much different.
“I woke up in the morning and thought, ‘I can phone Joanne today’. I called her and we laughed and it was like instant healing. All that pain had gone.”<Read More>