PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — This weekend is a time to celebrate the special ladies who give life or nurture it. But for one local veteran, this will go down as an unforgettable occasion.
She was given up for adoption decades ago. After years of searching and wondering, a lot of determination, tears and answered prayers, Mother’s Day 2019 she’ll spend it with her biological mom for the first time in 50 years.
So how did we get here?
In 1969 a young Judy Lavigne was living in California working to support her large family back home in Louisiana, when she became pregnant with her second child she knew she couldn’t afford alone, by a man who said he wasn’t ready to settle down.
“I was in a position where I couldn’t take care of my baby, but I wanted her to have a good life,” said Lavigne.
At 23, she made one of the most difficult decisions of her life on Feb 15, the day Peaches was born.
“That’s the only time I seen her and it was hard,” said Lavigne. “But I put her in God’s hands. I said God you know my heart. You know the situation. I take it out of my hands and put it in your hands and I know you’re going to take care of her.”
Judy went on to get married in 1970, later had another child, and never told a soul about the daughter she gave up. Her cousin who she lived with back in California was the only person who knew about the adoption and she held the secret for years.
By 1981, Peaches was in Oregon getting some of the most challenging news a 12-year-old child could get, when the only mother she knew told her that she wasn’t the only mother she had.
“When she said that I said what, you’re my mother and she said it again,” said Rhaney. “She pulled out some paperwork, the legal paperwork with the judge’s signature and how the adoption was legal.”
No shortage of questions clouded her mind. Who was the woman? Where was she?
And most of all: “Why did she give me up,” said Rhaney.”That was the biggest question. Why did she give me up? And what did I do to make her want to give me up? I made a vow to myself, I don’t care how long it takes, I’m gonna find her.”
She had dreams of a big family reunion one day. Years went by. Peaches joined the Navy and coincidentally her first duty station was in a familiar place unbeknownst to her, the same Naval Medical Center in Long Beach where it all began.
She contacted the adoption agency that handled her case, but only received a few clues. By 35 she had been on an emotional roller coaster far too long.
“I would get excited, oh man I’m close,” said Rhaney. “I could feel it in my spirit that I was close and then there would be this brick wall and my emotions would just plummet.”
But as technology changed, Peaches now living in Hampton Roads, decided to do a DNA test and create a profile on Ancestry.com. Meanwhile times had changed, and Judy decided to open up to her prayer partners down in Houston from Lakewood Church.
“Sister Veera told me, she said ‘Judy, she’s been looking for you,'” said Lavigne. “She said the Lord told me to tell you to wait on him she’s going to find you.”
Fast forward to January 1, 2019.
“Pastor Joel (Osteen) spoke to the congregation and said 2019 was going to be a lot of changes, especially in the families,” said Lavigne. “I said Lord it’s a New Year. I’ll be 73. My daughter will be 50 and I said Father if you don’t do nothing else for me I would love to see her before you take me home.”
That same day the sister of Peaches’ adoptive mother passed away.
“At the same time God was closing that door something in my spirit, I said something is going on,” Rhaney said.
20 days later Peaches heard from Judy’s niece, who had found her online.
“I get this Facebook message from a person I don’t recognize, but I saw the name,” said Rhaney. “I said ‘oh gosh here we go again.'”
This time it was the real thing. With a few questions asked and several pictures exchanged Judy’s niece, who knew nothing about her aunt’s pregnancy decades ago, had one more thing to do and asked her if she’d ever become pregnant and given up a child.
From Facetime chats to the most cheerful face to face meeting, this mother-daughter duo is finally reunited, and as for that dream about the family reunion when Peaches was a child, it came true in March.
Peaches met her younger brother she never knew she had. Now the pair is heading to Maryland for Judy to start a new chapter of life meeting her Great Grandchildren for the first time on Mother’s Day 2019.