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Mother, son to celebrate mother’s day after 57 years of separation at Benedictine Madonna Meadows

Mother’s Day 2023 was a celebration unlike any other as Linda Kelley welcomed the son she gave up for adoption in 1964 and his family for a visit.

In 1963, Kelley was a mere 20 years old, living in Pennsylvania, when she became pregnant. Having a child out of wedlock was not acceptable during that time period and especially for her parents. To keep the pregnancy a secret, her mother sent her to a home for unwed mothers with the plan to give the baby up for adoption.

She gave birth to a son on July 1, 1964, but sadly was not allowed to see him or even hear his first cry. Kelley said she cried the entire day knowing that her son was leaving for a new home with his adoptive parents.

She returned to her parent’s home for a period of time, working odd jobs until she was able to live independently. At 27, she married. Her husband was in the army, so they traveled. Although they tried to have children, but were unable to and divorced after nine years together. She moved to Rochester to be near her sister, Pam, in November 1993 and worked various jobs until she retired in 2006. In August 2018, she moved to Benedictine Madonna Meadows, where she still resides.

Over the years, Kelley attempted to locate her son, but was unsuccessful.

Michael and Linda were joined by Michael’s wife, Anne, and Pam Schaid, Linda’s sister, on Mother’s Day, May 14.

Michael was adopted by a family who ironically was also named Kelley, but no relation. “My adoptive parents gave me an incredible life,” he said. “I am very thankful for them.” Unfortunately, James and Diane Kelley passed away before Michael’s 30th birthday. It was after their deaths that Michael began his search for his birth mother.

He started with state records and found that Pennsylvania was a state where no adoption information could be provided unless the birthparents had signed a waiver allowing them to share information. His Ancestry DNA search a few years later provided some information, but not what he truly needed. In October 2017, he had a break in his search as Pennsylvania opened access to adoptees’ original birth certificates.

Although he now had his mother’s name, it took another four plus years for the 1950 census data to be published and the help of a friend who was skilled in Ancestry to make real progress. His friend found Pam on Facebook and Michael sent a message about his search for his birth mother, Linda. She responded the next day with Kelley’s phone number, adding, “I think you have found your mother.”

On July 6, 2022, Linda Kelley answered her phone to hear, “Mom, I’m your son!” She sat stunned, silent, then burst into tears. “Michael is no longer a long-lost son,” she said.

Since that momentous day, she and Michael have talked weekly. On Sept. 23, 2022, he and his wife Anne traveled from their home in Alabama to Rochester to meet his mother for the first time.

In that moment, Linda Kelley no longer had to wonder what he was doing, where he is, or what he looked like. “He was right there in the flesh, a moment that was so surreal, so too good to be true, it felt like a dream,” she said. Their first embrace was long and meaningful.

Over the last 10 months, phone calls, pictures and gifts have been exchanged. Linda Kelley said that her life will never be the same. “This is an answered prayer, a life-changing event. It fills the hole in my heart,” she said. “This is nothing short of a miracle.”

In addition to her son and his wife, who now calls Linda Kelley mom, she is a grandmother to five boys.

As Linda Kelley prepared for their Mother’s Day visit, she was excited and preparing for many more years of enjoying her newly found family. “I’ve found new meaning to life and a desire to be around for a long time to enjoy my family,” she added.