DNA test helps mom reunite with daughter she gave up for adoption 67 years ago

Nancy Harlow did not know daughter Susan Collins Adams' identity before DNA test

By Taj Simmons - Reporter

LYNCHBURG, Va. - A 67-year-old family mystery has been solved, thanks to science.

Nancy Harlow and Susan Collins Adams reunited after a DNA test discovered Collins Adams was Harlow's long-lost daughter. 

"It's so amazing and preposterous, but wonderfully preposterous that it's hard to really fathom," Harlow said. "You just have to accept the gift that it is."

Harlow got pregnant in 1951 as an unmarried teenager and was forced by her dad to travel from Virginia to Missouri to give birth at an adoption clinic.

"The clinic thought the family was not going to accept the child back or cause any problems because Dad told them the baby's father had died in the Korean War," Harlow said.

When Harlow gave birth, she was not even allowed to name her baby before she was taken away.

"If you were giving a child up for adoption, you could only see it once for a half an hour at the most," Harlow said.

Harlow returned home to Lynchburg, but Collins Adams was adopted by a family in Indianapolis, where she grew up and still lives. She knew she was adopted and tried to find her birth mother's identity numerous times in her life but had not been successful.

"You really don't know what you're coming into," Collins Adams said. "Maybe you were the secret nobody wanted to know about."

Collins Adams eventually submitted an Ancestry DNA kit as a last-ditch effort to find her long-lost mother.

They found each other after Harlow's son, Jim McCann, sent in a DNA kit to the same site in November. McCann and the family did not know anything about Collins Adams before he sent in his test, which he had received as a gift.

"One day, You spit in a tube. The next day, you have a sister," McCann joked. "It's weird. I had six other siblings, so I was satisfied."

Collins Adams drove down to Lynchburg from Indianapolis for the first time in January and returned this weekend to celebrate her mother's 88th birthday.

 "I was completely by myself. Now, I have 8 new immediate family members," Collins Adams said.

Harlow and Collins Adams have talked to each other constantly since they discovered they were mother and daughter, but they say nothing can make up for the 67 years of time they lost together.

"We're just taking each day as it comes, and that's fine," Harlow said.

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