A 102-year-old mother has told of her joy and astonishment at being reunited with the daughter she gave up for adoption more than seven decades ago.
Minka Disbrow became pregnant and gave birth at 16, after being raped by a stranger in woods near her house in South Dakota in 1928.
Abiding by the wishes of her family, she handed over the daughter she called "Betty Jane", but never forgot about her, writing dozens of letters over to the years to the House of Mercy adoption agency begging for news. Adopted by a Lutheran pastor and renamed Ruth, the little girl went on to have a happy childhood, and was never tempted to seek out her birth mother. It was only when she suffered from health problems in her 70s that her own children suggested she research her genetic history by tracing her birth family.
She was astonished to receive a package with more than 60 handwritten letters, and even more amazed to look her birth mother up in the phone book and find her straight away.
Ruth Lee, as she has been known since her marriage, and Mrs Disbrow were reunited in 2006 and have become firm friends.
Mrs Lee's daughter, Cathy LaGrow, has written a book about their reunion called The Waiting, in which she says that the two women are "like sisters," looking and even dressing alike.
"She never forgot about me," Mrs Lee said.
Mrs Disbrow had not known where babies came from when she was raped, while walking with her best friend near her home. It was only when her mother spotted her swelling figure that she learnt what it meant to be pregnant.
Minka Disbrow fell pregnant when she was raped as a 16-year-old. Photo / AP
In an interview with the New York Post, Mrs Disbrow said she still could not take in the fact that her baby was now an old woman herself. "I can't believe that her hair is white," she said.