Joanne and her mom were re­united—after 79 years apart!

Woman's World - - Start your week with a smile! - —Diane Ni­chols

Adopted as an in­fant, Joanne Loewen­stern was told her bi­o­log­i­cal mother had died a few days after she was born. But Joanne had a pow­er­ful feel­ing that her mom was still alive. For 60 years Joanne searched and held out hope, then at age 79, she got news that proved that love makes any­thing pos­si­ble

Am I…adopted?” 16-yearold Joanne Loewen­stern asked her par­ents as her stom­ach knot­ted with shock. Her mom nod­ded, and swal­low­ing hard, ex­plained that Joanne’s bi­o­log­i­cal mother had passed away two days after giv­ing birth.

Joanne’s mind reeled. She loved her par­ents, and she couldn’t have asked for a hap­pier home. Still, the moment she dis­cov­ered the truth of who she was, Joanne felt a strange stir­ring in her heart…that her birth mother was still alive.

This is crazy, she thought. Yet the feel­ing only grew stronger with time.

Hope lives

Love will travel as far as you let it. It has lim­its.” no — DEE KING

Joanne had been born on De­cem­ber 9, 1938, in Belle­vue Hos­pi­tal in New York City to a young woman named Lil­lian Fein­sil­ver. Lil­lian Fein­sil­ver. As the years passed, that name whis­pered like mu­sic in Joanne’s heart. And when Joanne got mar­ried and had four sons of her own, she re­al­ized

just how strong and spe­cial the bond is be­tween a mother and her child. “She’s alive,” Joanne told her hus­band, Kurt. “I have to find her.” She searched for many years with no luck and fi­nally hired a pri­vate de­tec­tive…but even he came up short. It’s time to let go, Joanne re­al­ized, and with a heavy heart, she gave up search­ing for Lil­lian. After re­tir­ing, Joanne and Kurt left New York to spend their golden years in Boca Ra­ton, Florida, near their son El­liot and his wife, Shel­ley. Hav­ing fam­ily close by helped ease Joanne’s lone­li­ness when Kurt passed away in 2003. One evening last May, Joanne flipped to a TV show called Long Lost Fam­ily, which shares sto­ries of re­united loved ones. Her tears blurred the screen as the deep longing to find her birth mother bub­bled back up in her heart. “I’m 79, and I still want to know more about her,” she told El­liot and Shel­ley. See­ing the pain in her mother-in-law’s eyes, Shel­ley asked Joanne to take an Ancestry.com DNA test, ex­plain­ing it can help adopted chil­dren find fam­ily mem­bers.

Joanne sent in the test and was ge­net­i­cally matched to a man named Sam Ci­minieri. She im­me­di­ately con­tacted him to ask if he knew Lil­lian Fein­sil­ver, and his re­ply rocked her to the core…lil­lian was his mom.

“She was told you had died; she never got over it,” Sam told Joanne after she shared her story.

And then Sam re­vealed more as­tound­ing news: Their mother was still alive— and lived only 80 min­utes from Joanne!

A bond un­bro­ken

Last June, Joanne, Shel­ley and El­liot, met Sam at the as­sisted liv­ing fa­cil­ity where Lil­lian re­sides. Be­fore they went in, Sam ex­plained that Lil­lian, now 100 years old, had de­men­tia and may not re­mem­ber hav­ing Joanne.

With tears of joy in her eyes, Joanne sat down be­side Lil­lian, in­tro­duced her­self and shared her birth date, search­ing her mother’s face for recog­ni­tion. But Lil­lian stared blankly. Joanne’s heart sank and she broke into tears. Hop­ing to lift the mood, Shel­ley Facetimed with her chil­dren. “Th­ese are your great-grand­kids,” Shel­ley said, show­ing Lil­lian the screen.

“Hi,” Lil­lian said softly, and then she looked at Joanne, and with a joy­ful twin­kle in her eyes, blurted, “This is my daugh­ter!”

Joanne em­braced her mother and felt peace fill her heart. “I love you,” she said. And as her mom smiled, Joanne knew that her heart had been healed, too.

The two women spent the day together and took their first mother/daugh­ter photo. To­day, copies of the pic­ture sit be­side both of their beds, and Joanne vis­its of­ten. “I thank God ev­ery day for lead­ing me to my mom,” Joanne beams. “Al­ways trust your heart—it’s never too late for love.”

“I am so full of joy,” Joanne, left, says of re­unit­ing with her mom, Lil­lian, after 79 years.

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