When Genevieve Purinton, now 88, gave birth to a daughter in 1949 in an Indian hospital, the medical staff told her that her baby had died. The baby, very much alive, was secretly taken to an orphanage and later adopted — a scenario that until as recently as 1987 was common in first world countries such as the U.S., Australia, and Spain, where priests, social workers, nurses and doctors sometimes took it into their own hands to determine that unmarried mothers were inherently unfit to take care of their newborn children. This dark history was the backdrop for a heartwarming reunion that took place in Florida this week, one that seems to have defied all odds.
Connie Moultroup, 69, met Purinton, her biological mother, for the first time this week — a reunion that is culmination of an entire lifetime of searching, and a surprise gift from her own loving daughter, Bonnie Chase.
“Because she was an unwed mother, she was told that I had died. She continued with her life not knowing I was still alive,” Moultroup told CNN. When Moultroup was just 5, her adoptive mother died of cancer and her adoptive father remarried a woman whom Moultroup said abused her.
“So the whole time, she just wanted to find her actual mother to rescue her from that horrible situation,” said Chase. At Christmas last year, Chase gave her mother an Ancestry.com DNA testing kit. That gift, Moultroup said, turned out to be the best thing she’s ever received.
“It took me a while to use it, but when I finally got the results I went from having only three known relatives (a daughter and two grandchildren), to 1,600 relatives. I was floored,” Moultroup said. She managed to contact a distant cousin who helped her to get in contact with Purinton. On Monday, the two met each other for the first time at Purinton’s home in a retirement community in Tampa, Florida.
“I met my mother and my cousin in person, and we cried. It was just a crying fest,” she recalled. “Not everybody has this kind of outcome when looking for their parents, but I recommend you give it a try, you don’t know what will happen.”
Purinton, nearing the end of her ninth decade on earth, believed she was all alone in the world, Fox 13 in Tampa reports. All eight of her siblings have died and she never gave birth again after that one time in 1949, which she was led to believe ended in tragedy. When the two came face to face for the first time, a meeting that was nearly 70 years in the making, they embraced in a long overdue hug. Purinton, who is frail at her age, seemed like she could hardly believe the surreal moment.
“Are you really not dead?” she asked her long lost daughter, tears in her eyes.
“I’m not dead,” Moultroup replied, prompting some laughter from those looking on.
And just like that, Purinton has a family again as she learned she has a granddaughter and several grandchildren in addition to her newfound daughter.
Watch video of the mother and daughter’s reunion below.
Read the full story at CNN.