A Phoenix woman reunited with the daughter that she was unwilling to give up 55 years ago.
Last month, Patricia Dowling flew to Oakland, Calif., to meet her daughter. The emotional moment was captured on video. The only other time Dowling had held her daughter was in her womb.
"Surreal would be the word,” Dowling said.
In the 1960s, to be 17 and pregnant was something taboo, Dowling explained.
"None of the people — not even my best friend — knew...,” Dowling said. ”It was very quiet and kept quiet."
So Dowling said she was sent 700 miles from home to give birth to the baby and give it up for adoption. At the hospital, she wasn't even allowed to hold her baby.
"They let my mom and I walk down to the nursery and view her through the window, but I never did get to touch her," Dowling said.
She believes she caught a glimpse of her baby’s first name then. By chance, she saw the name of the adopted father.
“When I was in labor, at the front check-in desk, they had paperwork out there, and I happened to notice his name. Right after that, she covered the paper up quickly,” Dowling said.
These were clues that would help her down the road. After years of searching and hitting dead ends, Dowling found her daughter.
Dowling has another daughter who knows someone who connects families who’ve been through adoption. That person knew where to look: a national adoption registry.
"Amy (her daughter) had registered her name there, and because I knew her name, the lady was able to find her," Dowling said.
From there and with a little detective work on Facebook, Dowling and her daughter were connected and talked on the phone.
Fifty-five years later, at a California airport, Dowling finally got to hold her daughter the way she wished she could've the day she was born.