Two local families have one story they hope will inspire people to never lose hope.
Joanne Loewenstern, 80, was adopted as a baby and lived her entire life never knowing her biological mother, until this week.
The best part; her mother, Lillian Ciminieri, now 100-years-old, is also still around for the reunion, nearly a century in the making.
On Wednesday, they spent time together coloring a picture at Lillian’s nursing home.
It was only their second time ever spending time together. They take no time together for granted.
“They didn’t get to color together when she was a little girl, but it’s never too late to color with your mom,” said Elliot Loewenstern, Joanne’s son.
Joanne’s family knew how badly Joanne wanted to know about her past.
“Many nights I sat and cried, believe me,” Joanne said.
She was 16-years-old when she found out she was adopted.
“1964 I found out I was adopted ... I was told two days after I was born, my mother died.”
But, even if she wasn’t alive, Joanne wanted to know more about her mother.
Her daughter-in-law, Shelley Loewenstern, decided to take a chance and created an Ancestry.com account about a year ago.
“She was in pain and I could see it. She was always saying I don’t know where I’m from,” Shelley said.
She knew it was a long shot since they did not have much information to go on.
“All she remembered was her mother’s birth name,” Shelley said.
Fortunately, that was enough.
Samson Ciminieri recently created an Ancestry.com account, too.
Shelley got a message that she got a "hit" and reached out to Samson.
"She asked me if I knew a Lillian Feinsilver. I said yes, that’s my mother,” Samson said.
Feinsilver was Lillian’s maiden name before she became a Ciminieri.
“Without his DNA we wouldn’t have found her,” Shelley said,
They quickly decided to meet.
Joanne not only meeting her mother for the first time about a week ago, she also learned she had a half-brother, Samson.
But, the family’s mystery isn’t over completely.
Joanne’s mother, Lillian, was clearly never dead as she was told to believe.
Lillian’s caretaker, Rose Marie Ciminieri, said Lillian told her a story about a daughter she "lost."
“She had the baby in the hospital. She said the baby died,” Rose Marie said.
Lillian never mentioned knowing she gave a child up for adoption.
‘I think I’m the little girl that she lost,” Joanne said.
Now, they know both are alive. Their relationship is unquestionable.
“I look like her, the eyes … I knew that she was my mother,” Joanne said.
“Look at the fashion sense of the shoes. Look at the shoes!” Shelley laughed.
Why they were truly separated, Joanne might never know. Lillian’s memory from 1938 is foggy.
But now, they focus on making the most of their time left together.
“I'm proud. This is something I wanted to do all my life. Now, I’m through,” Joanne said.
She also wants to inspire other adopted families, to seek answers if they want them.
“Children should know that if they want to find their roots, they shouldn’t be afraid to do it.”
Another part of the story that amazes the families is how close they live to each other after all these years.
Joanne is in Boca Raton. Lillian is in Port St. Lucie.
Joanne and her family hope to visit Lillian as much as possible, potentially on the weekends.