99-Year-Old Woman Reunites with Daughter After 83 Years

'It is still so hard to believe'
By Epoch Newsroom
Epoch Newsroom
Epoch Newsroom
May 24, 2016 Updated: June 8, 2017

A 99-year-old woman who gave her baby up for adoption in 1933 finally met with her daughter.

For more than 80 years, Eileen Wagner kept the secret from her kids, believing it was the best way to protect them.

Last month, Wagner got a phone call from her 83-year-old daughter. “Hello, Mother,” Dorien Hammann, her long-lost daughter, told her, reported the Chicago Tribune.

Wagner said her eyes filled with tears when she heard her daughter’s voice for the first time.

“I thought this day would never come,” Wagner told Hammann.

Wagner said she gave her child up after she was raped at the age of 16 and hid the fact from her parents. According to the Tribune:

On April 15, 1933, Wagner delivered a baby she named Beverly Ann because she thought the name was beautiful. For nearly two years, the baby was in the custody of Children’s Home & Aid Society of Wisconsin. Wagner saw her daughter again briefly in the Milwaukee County Court when the toddler was adopted by George and Dorothy Schmidt, according to a document provided by Hammann and verified by the Tribune.

“In those days, it was such an embarrassment,” she told the paper. “It was a lonesome time.”

Hammann said she was raised by a civil engineer and homemaker near Milwaukee and was told about her adoption. However, she never felt the need to reconnect with her biological mother. Her daughter eventually searched names from an adoption document and contacted Wagner.

“It is still so hard to believe that at my age, my birth mother is still alive,” Hammann said, according to the website.

On Memorial Day weekend, which coincides with Wagner’s 100th birthday, she will be surrounded by all three of her children—including Hammann—for the first time ever.

Adoption advocates have said it is the longest span of time between an adoption and a reconnection they’ve ever heard of.

“What you usually hear is the tragic side, when people begin their search on their biological parents just a little bit too late,” said Chuck Johnson, head and CEO of the National Council for Adoption.

The two spoke on the phone a few times and met in person on April 25.

“I just wanted to know that she was OK, and she had a good life and wasn’t abused,” Wagner said.

“There’s so much going on in this world these days and you’re thinking all these things could have happened.”