Susan Towers was adopted as an infant and yearned to know the identity of her birth mother. At more than 60 years old, she took a MyHeritage DNA test — and received a match with a maternal half-sibling.
This is Susan’s story:
I was more than 60 years old when I found out who my birth mother was, and never in a million years had I ever believed I would know.
My life began in a private transaction in Los Angeles, my adopted mother told me when I was young. I was the secret between a lawyer, a doctor, a young woman and my adopted parents. I was the only child they adopted.
I have pictured my birth mother, a young woman alone in a small private hospital in Culver City, having to make the decision to give up a newborn. I have pictured her saying goodbye to me, and have always felt her pain and sadness around my birth.
When I was 20 years old, my adopted father told me my birth mother was a nurse, and was Jewish. At the time I suspected he wanted me to think I was Jewish, and didn’t believe him. A few years later, after he died, his nephew and his best friend both told me I was his secret child. Since that time, I have believed I was Jewish, and began to research his past. He was a holocaust survivor, a man who served in the partisans fighting the Germans. His story became mine. I had identity and roots.
But my lost birth mother stayed in my heart. I yearned to know who she was, and wondered if I had brothers or sisters.
The DNA test I took has had an effect on me that I still have not been able to process.
Through MyHeritage I was matched with a maternal half-brother. I reached out to him and we eventually responded. A window into my real identity opened.
My respect for my birth mother’s privacy and for the privacy of her family prevents me from sharing her name, and the names of my half-siblings. She died several years ago but I have two half-sisters and four half-brothers, all of whom have reached out to me as if I am a lost family member. I am so blessed. One of my sisters is sure mom reached out of the grave to bring all her children together.
I was conceived when my mother was a young unmarried nurse in New York City. And no, not Jewish, but Catholic. She went to Los Angeles to have me, and then returned to the east coast. Four years later she married, and then had six children.
One of my half-brothers says there was a sadness about her before she died, and I have to wonder if it was because she gave up a child. As a mother myself, I can’t imagine it. One of my half-sisters lives a 30-minute drive from me, and we get together often. She says I am very much like our mother; even my mannerisms and voice are similar to hers.
I first met her and her husband while the rest of the family was still suspicious. Then she had a big dinner where two of my brothers and my other sister came. By the middle of the meal they knew I was a sibling. Afterwards, a couple more of the family members did their DNA test as well, to see if there was a match, and it was just the same.
I look at my birth mother’s photograph and I see myself. When I met my half-siblings I saw myself in them too. I can’t describe the feeling, as I have never looked like anyone else in my life. I have never really fit into the family that adopted me. I always felt like an outsider.
I dream about my birth mother now and again. I see her face and truly believe she wanted me to be found. Societal norms would not let her share information about my identity. There was no transparency over 60 years ago. So many people had to hide their hearts. I can imagine she didn’t want her husband to know the truth either. He also has passed away.
The DNA showed a painful fact that also underlies my secret birth. My adopted father was not my birth father. Who knows why the lie was told, why I had to live that lie for so many years until it became part of my identity.
I found my birth mother, but have lost my birth father. He remains a secret, and so far not to be found.
Susan is a professional writer and is working on a memoir about her story. Many thanks to Susan for sharing her journey with us. If you’ve made an amazing discovery with MyHeritage, we’d love to hear about it! Please share it with us via this form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Source: My Heritage