We’re willing to bet that when Valerie Leatherwood woke up one day in the 1960s, she could never have imagined that it would be the day her life would change forever. Going about her daily job in a nursing home, Valerie unexpectedly discovered that she was pregnant. Now, this must have been a very overwhelming discovery to make, and, though we’re sure she was delighted, we also think she must have had some nerves as well, especially given her situation.
To be honest, Valerie didn’t find herself in a particularly ideal situation when discovering she was pregnant. Due to her young age (being only 20 years old), and the fact that the nursing home where she worked was run by nuns, we’re willing to bet that Valerie was pretty scared. This was not the right kind of environment for a young woman to be getting pregnant out of wedlock, and oftentimes, nuns did not take kindly to this sort of occurrence.
At the same time, this is not the kind of thing that is easy to hide, especially from a nun. So, Leatherwood must have decided that it was better to tell someone and deal with the fall out than to keep it a secret. It turns out that the nun who was her supervisor was the first to know – whether she figured it out or Valerie told her, we aren’t sure. Luckily, she seemed to be understanding and seemingly wanted to do what was best for Valerie and the baby.
The kind of situation Valerie found herself in was not that unusual, but it was potentially a problem. This was back in the 1960s, in the American Midwest, and for a 20-year-old young woman working at a nursing home, this certainly wasn’t the best scenario to find oneself in. In fact, in a lot of these situations, women had their babies taken away from them, put up for adoption, and sometimes even worse fates might befall these tiny infants! It was clear that Valerie had a big decision to make.
A better life
The nun who had discovered her secret was quick to act and actually sent Valerie away to work in a different town in order to preserve her secret. Disapproval from the church was nothing new surrounding situations like this, but we think the nun made the right call in this instance. By sending the young woman away, she preserved her secret and allowed her to live the life she may not have been able to otherwise.
Keeping a secret
So Valerie moved away to another town, where she finally went into labor and gave birth to a baby girl. Just five weeks after she had finally given birth, Valerie Leatherwood made one of the most difficult decisions a parent would ever have to make in her life – she gave her baby up for adoption. This is a secret she kept with her for the next 50 years, and never even told her family about the decision, or the situation she was in.
We can’t imagine how difficult a decision this must have been for Valerie emotionally. She was only a young woman and had already had to encounter negativity for something that should have been greeted with positivity. She had to make a very emotionally draining decision to give up her child and remove herself from its life. She was essentially making a decision that would mean never seeing her daughter again, and the emotional struggle must have been enormous.
A mother’s struggle
A mother has an unbreakable bond with her child, and this is something that stays with her forever. So, this must have meant that Valerie was dealing with a great deal of emotional pain. Giving up her first and only daughter as a tiny baby is one of the hardest things she must ever have had to do. We aren’t sure if Valerie made the decision to have any other children later in life, but if she didn’t, we can’t say we blame her.
Unexpected phone call
We bet that Valerie had gone her whole life not imagining she would ever see or hear from her daughter ever again. But one day there would be a phone call that would change everything, and turn her world upside down. At the age of 73, Valerie Leatherwood would receive the most important phone call of her life, and one that would bring the memories from all those years ago flooding back. But who was on the other end of the phone, and what did they want?
It turned out that Valerie’s daughter had gotten in touch with Valerie’s sister, asking if anyone in the family had given up a little girl for adoption many years ago. This was the moment that Valerie had perhaps been fearing and expecting to happen all these years ago, and now it was finally here. She had the opportunity to finally come clean and tell someone in her family about the biggest secret of her life.
Understandably, Valerie’s sister Diana was shellshocked by the revelation. We’re pretty sure she had never expected this to happen in a million years, and now she knew her sister’s biggest secret. Speaking to KTXL Sacramento, Diana summed up how she was feeling in a way we could probably all relate to when she said, “I was so shocked. You could have knocked me over with a feather!” We love this reaction, and totally understand where Diana was coming from.
This revelation, and the phone call, set in motion a chain of events that had been half a century in the making. Finally, after 52 years, Valerie Leatherwood would get to have the meeting she never got, but one we imagine she thought about every day of her life. She was finally reunited with her long-lost daughter Mia Keske Anderson. It was an emotional and heartwarming public reunion that was captured on film for the whole world to experience.
So, how did this meeting finally come about, and what allowed Mia to finally track down her long-lost mother? Well, the key was in the DNA. Apparently, unbeknownst to Valerie, her brother and niece had given DNA samples to the website Ancestry.com. It was through this site that Mia had attempted to track down her birth mother. She was able to find and approach her aunt Diana as a result of the DNA findings, and ask about her mom.
Rebuilding the bond
The two women finally arranged to meet in a shopping mall, with Valerie meeting Mia at the bottom of an escalator. Worlds collided as the mother and daughter finally reunited after more than five decades. The adult Mia and her mother had an emotional meeting, with Mia proclaiming, “It’s nice to see where I get my cheeks from!” We bet that these two are looking forward to making up for lost time and getting to know everything about one another.
Where to now?
So, we are wondering what will happen with these two following their reunion. It is not every day you get to meet the mother or daughter you haven’t seen for almost your entire life! Mia is believed to have spent a week with her biological mother, and the pair have discovered that they have a lot in common. We hope this will lead to many more meetings between the two moving forward, and that they will develop a firm and strong relationship for the future.
What we love about this story is that it has such a happy, uplifting, and emotional ending. There are a lot of situations like this one in which people may not have ever been reunited, and they would have gone their whole lives without meeting. That is what makes this one of our favorite stories in the media in recent times. There is so much negative press and so many depressing stories in the media, and it is great to finally hear some good news for a change.
Valerie’s case is certainly not unique, even though it does pack an emotional punch. In fact, it has echoes of another story from earlier this year, when a father and daughter wound up meeting for the first time in more than 30 years! At Sacramento International Airport James Long met his 32-year-old daughter for the first time, and he hadn’t even known she existed. This was another meeting made possible by the website Ancestry.com.
A century of doubt
If you think these two packed an emotional punch, wait until you hear this stunning tale. 100-year-old Lillian Ciminieri finally got the opportunity to meet her daughter Joanne Loewenstern (79) for the first time ever. The mother and daughter were apparently separated in New York City 79 years ago, for reasons unknown. Through Ancestry.com, the pair managed to find one another, and they were living just 100 miles apart in Florida. We’re glad these two were able to meet while they’re still alive and well.
Ancestry.com is a website which users can visit in order to try to track their family tree, ancestors, or even find long-lost family members. And it seems to be one of the most reliable and incredible websites for this, as it has helped in all three of the cases we’ve mentioned. It is one of the best genealogy websites on the internet, and its user-friendly site has made it entirely possible for families and long-lost relatives to meet after many years.
Like something from the movies
Heartwarming tales of separated families being reunited years later is like something out of the movies. And, in fact, there was actually a Hollywood movie made about just that exact thing. Lion, a 2016 movie starring Dev Patel, sees an Indian boy separated from his family, sent to an orphanage, and adopted by a family from Tasmania. As the boy grows into a man, he sets out on a journey to discover his home village, and find his family.
Hope for the future
The bond between parent and child is one that is unbreakable and can survive through the years. There are a lot of instances of children and families being separated from one another, and a lot of the time they don’t wind up ever meeting. But, these stories and genealogy sites like Ancestry give others hope that they might one day reconnect with those they lost touch with so many years ago. We hope that in the future this might lead to more reconciliations between families.