In 1933, 14-year-old Lena Pierce gave birth to a baby girl. The teenage mother was young, but she loved her daughter Eva May. She took care of the baby for six months. Then one day officials from the state of New York came and took her daughter.
They said she was too young to be a fit mother.
“There was a lot of times I worried about her and wondered where she was,” Pierce said.
Eva May was adopted by a loving family who changed her name to Betty Morrell. She never had any siblings and when she was 21 her adoptive mother passed away, followed by her adoptive father a few years later. She spent a lot of her life alone.
“An aunt of mine had one day slipped and said my name was ‘Eva,’” Morrell said. “And I said ‘oh.’ And she said, ‘You know you were born up in Utica?’”
With these clues about her origins, Morrell spent 50 years searching for her birth mother. It wasn’t until she found her half-sister on Ancestry.com that she was able to reconnect with Pierce, a whole 82 years later.
“There was no connection. Nothing to tie me to anybody,” Morrell said. “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 two women met for a tearful reunion at an airport.
It was the first time Pierce saw her daughter in over eight decades.
“I’m not alone anymore,” Morrell said. “I have my mother, and I have sisters and brothers. It’s surreal, but so wonderful to be together again after all this time.”