Lena was forced to place her baby for adoption when she was a young teenager. But after 82 years, she finally had the chance to look into her daughter’s beautiful eyes again.

Betty Morrell never knew her biological mom. And at the age of 82 years old, she thought that meeting her mother would be close to impossible…until it actually happened.

Betty, who hails from Spring Hill, Florida, started searching for her mom after her adoptive parents passed away in 1954. She was determined to meet her, so she was tirelessly looking for ways to track her and get to know her.

She did everything she could. She even hired private detectives to find more leads on her biological mom’s location.

“I hired private detectives, called adoption agencies and wrote letters to anyone that might have been able to help me,” Morrell tells PEOPLE. “I believe in fate though, and I think we were meant to meet, when we were meant to meet.”

And truly, Betty and her biological mom were meant to meet each other.

After decades of various efforts that ended with negative results, Betty finally made huge progress and found out about the identity of her birth mother. She instantly set for them to meet.

For the first time since her birth, Betty got to gaze at the eyes of her birth mother, Lena Pierce, who was 96 years old.

Back in 1933, Lena gave birth to Betty in Utica, New York. She was only 13 then. She was a ward of the state, and when she brought Betty into this world, the name she gave her child was Eva May.

Lena got to be with Betty for six months until the state gave the baby away to Betty’s adoptive parents. Under their care, Betty was an only child, but she had no idea her parents were not her biological parents.

“One day a neighbor kid came up to me and said, ‘You know you’re adopted, right?’ ” she says. “I didn’t know what that meant, so I asked my mom, who explained everything by saying I was chosen by them and very special. My family made me feel so comfortable that I didn’t even think about the fact I was adopted until I was in my twenties.”

Betty was curious about her roots and wanted to find out who her birth parents were.

The first thing she did was to go back to the New York adoption agency that handled her case and from there, she did various efforts to get more information. She eventually got hold of her birth certificate and a letter that told her about her mom.

She had very little progress from there on because her adoption papers were all sealed, preventing her from getting crucial information that would lead her to Lena.

“I had sort of given up when my granddaughter Kimberly signed me up for Ancestry.com,” she explained. “We then started on this mission together.”

It was a good thing that Betty never gave up because the reunion she thought would never happen finally became a reality.

The moment they finally embraced each other was decades in the making. Betty could not believe that it was actually happening.

“She cried and hugged me and said, ‘It’s been so long, it’s been so long,’” she shared.

Betty and Lena met at Binghamton Airport in New York. Kimberly Miccio, Betty’s granddaughter, shared how much her grandma longed for the reunion to come.

“I spent summers with grandma, and she would always tell me stories about her big journey to find her mom,” Kimberly tells PEOPLE. “So I helped her look online through family history websites.”

Because of her unrelenting search online, Kimberly finally received a call from Lena’s family which she immediately acted on.

“We were contacted by Lena’s family members, who offered to put us in touch with her daughter,” she says. “When they sent over a photo, I knew it was the right woman, they looked exactly alike.”

At 82 years old, Betty finally met her birth mother and it was surreal.

Lena was with her two daughters when the reunion happened. Betty could not be happier to meet not only her mom but her sisters as well. She found out she had four!

“It wasn’t real for me until I saw her in person,” she says. “I kept thinking, ‘There is no way that both of us are still alive.’ I also found out I had four sisters and two brothers. I had a whole new family that I never knew about.”

Truly, this is a reunion of a lifetime. It only proves that good things really come to those who wait. And even though Lena passed away months after their reunion, we all know that she was happy because she was able to meet her first baby girl before she said goodbye.

 

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