A mother and daughter were separated eight decades ago, and both were told that the other was dead. So what would prompt family members of 79-year-old Joanne Loewenstern to search for her birth mother?
Even if they didn’t believe the story that Joanne was told at age 16, that her birth mother died soon after she was born, what were the chances that she would still be alive in 2018 and that it would be possible to find her?
In spite of such overwhelming odds, something pushed family members to search for Joanne’s lost mother and they found 100-year-old Lillian C living less than 100 miles from Joanne along the Florida’s east coast. Caretakers of Lillian Ciminieri, 100, believe she spent her life thinking her daughter had died at birth, according to a video of the reunion.
Ciminieri once went by “Lillian Feinsilver,” the name Loewenstern was given as her birth mother’s name, according to the Washington Post. Detective work of family members resulted in the reunion of mother and daughter after a DNA match was made on Ancestry.com. The website offers DNA services designed to help users discover their family history.
It was a miracle in our view,” Elliot Loewenstern, Joanne’s son, told USA TODAY in a written message. “Unbelievable.” The reunion took place June 24 in Port St. Lucie, Florida, about 1,000 miles away from New York City where they were separated 79 years ago.
The mystery of her birth mother haunted Loewenstern throughout her life. “Many nights I sat and cried,” Loewenstern told West Palm Beach station WPTV.
She didn’t fully believe that her mother had died at a Bronx hospital in 1938, as she was told. “I had a feeling she was alive somehow,” The Washington Post quotes Loewenstern as saying. “I just felt that I didn’t believe it for some reason.”
Details of how and why the separation occurred are still unknown. “We don’t know what happened officially because this is all new to us and we aren’t alive at that time,” Elliot Loewenstern said.
The reunion brought relief and closure to Loewenstern and her family. “This is incredible and my mother can finally put to bed her question of who am I? God truly works in mysterious ways and today was massive,” Elliot Loewenstern wrote on Facebook after the reunion.