MASSILLON, Ohio — After nearly six decades of separation and years of yearning for answers, a mother-daughter duo from Massillon is cherishing Mother’s Day together.
“I knew all of my life from the age of five that I was adopted,” Elizabeth Sowders said. “There was a piece of my heritage that was missing. I wanted to know who she was. I was raised not being told the truth.”
Thanks to modern technology, the unthinkable meeting took place in 2019.
“I was not aware of what the dealings were when I had her,” Sandra Huff said. “We walk alike. We talk alike. We finish each other's sentences.”
A teenage Huff gave birth to her daughter, Sowders, never to see her again.
“I’ve always since then wanted to know who my mama was and there was a piece of my heart that was missing,” Sowder said. “There's not a day goes by that we're not together, nor will there be. We have 57 years to catch up for.”
Sowders was gifted a 23andMe DNA test by her daughter.
“She said, ‘It’s time to find your mama.’ And so I did,” Sowders said.
Unsure of the outcome, Sowders channeled her pain, put pen to paper and mailed an emotional letter to her biological mother in Massillon.
“I read the first three lines and I hit my knees and said, ‘Oh God.’ I opened it more,” Huff said. “The picture fell out of her. It was like looking at me.”
Their unlikely friendship progressed quickly.
“Two months later, I’m flying to California to meet her. The rest is history,” Huff said. “Now she lives 75 feet from my door.”
The pair never missed a beat.
“We're a duplicate. We’re a Xerox copy of of each other. We are together every day. We're mother and daughter, but it's more than that. We're best friends,” Sowders said.
They choose not to dwell on the time lost, but rather, cherish the gift they were given better late than never.
“The important thing is that we are together and that we have each other back in our lives,” Sowders said. “It doesn't lessen anything from the family that raised me. It's the fact that this was a piece of my heart that was missing.”