Joanne Lowenstern was only 16 years old when she learned that she had been adopted. That was 64 years ago, as Joanne is now an 80-year-old woman.
“1954, I found out I was adopted,” she told WPTV.
“I was told two days after I was born, my mother died.”
As you can imagine, it was quite a shock for Joanne to learn that she was not raised by her biological parents. She knew that her birth mother was dead but she felt as if there was something missing from her life. It was as if she had a hole in her history. “She was in pain, and I could see it,” Shelley Loewenstern, Joanne’s daughter-in-law, explained.
“She was always saying I don’t know where I’m from.”
Joanne had always wanted to learn more about her birth mother. 64 years worth of her efforts were turned back every time she attempted to learn more but then her daughter-in-law got involved.
The name of her birth mother was all that Joanne had available. That name was Lillian Feinsilver and Shelby, her daughter-in-law used that name to create an account on ancestry.com.
A man by the name of Samson Ciminieri had also registered for an account and submitted his DNA to their database. When that information was entered into the system, Shelley got a notification that there was a ‘hit’.
“She [Shelley] asked me if I knew a Lillian Feinsilver,” said Samson.
“I said, ‘Yes, that’s my mother.’”
Fate can be funny sometimes and in the strangest coincidence, Shelley located Joanne’s half-brother. “Without his DNA, we wouldn’t have found her,” the woman noted.
But that wasn’t all.
Sampson let her know that his mother was still alive. She was only eight minutes away from Joanne the entire time.
Shelley learned that Joanne and her birth mother had both thought that the other passed away during childbirth. Lillian’s caretaker recalled that she talked often about the daughter she lost.
Nobody fully understands how the adoption took place but there is one thing that is known. Joanne and her 100-year-old mother are now enjoying as much quality time as possible together.
You can see the two seniors coloring together at the nursing home where Lillian lives.
“They didn’t get to color together when she was a little girl, but it’s never too late to color with your mom,” Joanne’s son Elliot tells the camera.
Joanne says that it was a little awkward when they met for the first time but they had an immediate understanding of their relationship:
“I look like her, the eyes … I knew that she was my mother.”
As the camera pans down, you even see that they are wearing similar shoes.
Approximately 130,000 children in the United States are adopted every year. The US Children’s Bureau has a fact sheet for any adoptee that can help them with tips, messages and organizations to help find a birth parent.
Now that Joanne is 80 years old, she is overjoyed with meeting her mother. She also hopes that her story will be an inspiration to other adoptees that they should never give up looking until they have the answers they want.
“Children should know that if they want to find their roots, they shouldn’t be afraid to do it.”
You can see their reunion in this video: