CLEVELAND — A Cleveland woman taken from her mother shortly after being born has a new book that details growing up in an abusive home with her adoptive parents and the journey that took her across the Atlantic Ocean to find her biological family.
The bond between a mother and daughter is something special. Marie Wydra’s story starts back in 1954 on the day she was born.
The place — a home for unwed mothers and their babies in Ireland.
Marie was forcibly taken from her 28-year-old mother at just two weeks old, placed in an orphanage for two years.
Until, a family from Cleveland paid to adopt her, bring her overseas, and the nightmare began.
“I unfortunately was sold to a couple who were both alcoholics,” Marie said. “I was locked in rooms, I was beaten. It turned out to be a horrible existence.”
Marie’s adoptive parents also bought and adopted another young boy shortly after she was brought home — and the abuse not only continued, but got progressively worse.
After years of horrific abuse, Marie escaped and left home at 16 years old, vowing to spend her life helping babies and children.
And vowing to someday, find the mother she knew was out there, all along.
She became a pediatric nurse, got married, had children of her own.
Life was good.. but still.
“I knew, just knew, whatever I was going to do, I was going to find my mother,” she said. “I just felt her.”
A decade ago, news out of Ireland reopened old wounds.
Mass graves discovered at mothers and babies homes. Media outlets reporting around 9,000 children died in total — from abuse, neglect and brutal living conditions.
“Bring these women in, torturing them, making them work for years and years, letting them see their babies 15 minutes a day,” Marie said. “Not helping them with their labors, no comfort, no anything and a lot of them died, a lot of babies died.”
And that’s when she knew she had to return to her motherland and at least try to find her biological mother.
With her daughter Megan by her side, they booked a trip to Ireland.
“I just couldn’t imagine not knowing my mother,” Megan said, “I don’t know how she carried that with her her whole life.”
Armed with Ancestry.com DNA data, they pinpointed Marie’s roots to two Irish villages.
And from there, fate took hold.
“I could say I did as much planning as I could, but there were a lot of people upstairs helping…the right people dropped in our lives at the exact right moment,” Megan said.
Like the driver they hired last minute, who just happened to be in a pub band with a distant relative of Marie’s and started making calls. It led them to a village not in Ireland, but in England.
And so, days later, Marie found her mother — the one her adoptive parents had told her was dead.
“We didn’t even let each other go the two days we were there,” Marie said, recalling the moments. “We were holding hands, hugging, looking at each other, we were soaking each other in.”
Marie recalls being nervous in the moments walking up to her mother’s door — how would she react? How would the behave? Marie is in a Facebook group with other children from the orphanage who are searching for their biological parents and said she finds more often than not, biological mothers do not accept their children, even decades later.
But Marie’s story is different. It is full of hope and full of love.
She found her mother just as she always knew she would.
“And we looked alike, that was the best part, all the siblings kept remarking, ‘Oh you look just like your mom!’” Marie said.
“They kept calling her mini mum,” Megan said.
And she found her just months before her mother died from cancer.
“It brought me peace and I know it brought her peace,” Marie said.
Although Marie lost her mother just months after meeting her, she also found she has three half-siblings. They are now as close as can be — visiting Ireland, and having her family come see her life here in Cleveland.
It is a story that sounds like something straight out of a movie.
A story so wild, they had to turn it into a book.
Written by mother and daughter, Marie and Megan, titled “I Knew You Were There.”
The goal of the book is to not only share this incredible journey and give people hope but to raise awareness about child abuse and intervention.
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