Could you imagine seeking out your long lost mom at the age of 77, and finding her alive and well?
That happened. It’s a pretty astounding story, one with a sad beginning and middle but a really happy (against all odds) ending. Minka Disbrow became a mom against her will at the age of 17, after a traumatic rape in 1928 when she was 16. Attacked along with a friend, Disbrow learned, much to her confusion, that she was pregnant. Her Dutch immigrant parents sent her to a Lutheran home for unwed mothers, and the teen mom soon gave birth to a baby girl she named Betty Jane.
Disbrow rescinded custody of baby Betty Jane to a local couple, a pastor and his wife, retaining only a black and white picture of the baby swaddled in blankets. And she later married a wartime pilot and fruit salesman, worked as a seamstress and had two more kids. But Disbrow never stopped looking for Betty Jane, faithfully writing letters to the adoption agency in hopes of finding her baby. Decades passed, and somewhat heartbreakingly, Disbrow tells the Daily Mail she prayed that one of her queries after Betty Jane would result in locating her daughter:
‘Lord, if you would just let me see her,’ Mrs Disbrow remembered praying. ‘I promise you I will never bother her.’
In 2006, when Disbrow was in her mid-nineties, she received an initially troubling call from a man in Alabama, asking some probing questions. But the man asked if she wished to speak to Betty Jane, now named Ruth Lee. It turned out that the blonde-haired baby girl had been adopted by a Norwegian family, had gone on to marry and have six kids (one of whom was astronaut Mark Lee) and began her search for her adoptive mother after looking into her familial medical history in her 70s.
Lee is now 82, and she had this to say about finally reuniting with her biological mom:
‘It has been such a surreal, amazing experience that I still think sometimes that I will wake up and it will just be a beautiful dream.’