100-year-old mother meets 79-year-old daughter for the first time: 'It was a miracle'
It was an emotional family reunion on Sunday in Florida: A 79-year-old daughter met her 100-year-old birth mother for the first time, both having been told decades ago that the other had died. For years they've lived less than 100 miles apart along the Florida coast, not knowing about each other until a recent DNA test and the dedication of family members brought them together. Joanne Loewenstern, 79, found out at the age of 16 that she was adopted. She was told her birth mother had died soon after she was born, according to WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach. 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. Thanks to the detective work of family members documented by the Post, mother and daughter reunited after a DNA match 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." ► June 29: Teen helps blind and deaf man on flight ► June 27: Teacher's final gift was to help children in need When the two met in Port St. Lucie, Florida, they were about 1,000 miles away from where they were separated 79 years ago: New York City. The mystery of her birth mother haunted Loewenstern throughout her life. "Many nights I sat and cried," Loewenstern told 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 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. Mother and daughter spent time coloring together when they met. One of the pictures: Flip-flops and sunglasses, that Loewenstern inscribed with a message. She promised to keep in touch, to have a relationship with her long-lost birth mother. "Love your daughter, Joanne," she signed the picture.