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January 27, 2010 > Reunited at last

Reunited at last

By Alissa Gwynn
Photos By courtesy of Susan Moranz

In December, Susan Romley Moranz of Milpitas took a trip to Boston to visit her family. The twist: this was the first time she had ever seen or met Missie Lucero, Nicki Alonzo, or Patricia Eaton, her three biological sisters. Adopted 51 years ago, Moranz always knew that she had siblings somewhere in the world, yet it was only this past summer that she was able to track down a familial connection through and reconnect with a side of her family she had never known.

Moranz's parents, Lebanese immigrants George and Macrina Romley, provided Moranz with a loving and caring childhood. Growing up with two older brothers, she was a happy and healthy child who actively took part in swimming, ballet, Girl Scouts, piano lessons, and more. However, this wasn't always the case, for Moranz (born Regina Waggoner) was a sickly infant who required constant medical care.

At the time, Moranz's birth mother, Lois Waggoner, was undergoing hardships and unable to provide sufficient care for Moranz to lead a full and happy life. She decided to put Moranz and her other sister, Linda (who was also unhealthy and needed medical care) up for adoption through a private adoption program.

Although Moranz did lead a happy childhood, she notes, "Deep down inside I had a strong urge to find my birth family, especially my siblings. If my birth mother was alive, I wanted to give her a heartfelt hug with much thanks for a wonderful family." Moranz's parents were supportive of her curiosity to find her birth family and tried finding a lead to their whereabouts, yet were unable to find anything to aid in the search.

Finally, Moranz decided to look into her parents' background to see if she could find any information about Waggoner and her family. Because her parents came through Ellis Island, she was led to, where she found a family tree her Aunt "Cook" Valasek had created. Moranz then managed to get in contact with her Uncle Ray.

After a whirlwind of emails and phone calls, Moranz scheduled two different trips to meet her family: one to the Burbank area to visit various aunts and uncles, and another later trip to Boston to meet her sisters. Upon meeting her relatives in Burbank, she immediately felt comfortable and had a wonderful time getting to know everyone.

When Moranz traveled to Boston on December 12, her sisters and their families greeted her with hugs, while photographer Matthew Healy captured the moment on camera. She says, "The anxious moment I was awaiting was truly worth it. [Meeting at the airport] was a moment that will live on forever in our minds. We had talked numerous times, but that first meeting was so special after envisioning what it was going to be like. It was better in person than I could have ever thought!"

The first night they got together, the siblings stayed up nearly all night chatting back and forth. Unfortunately, Moranz learned that her birth mother had in fact passed away in 2005, and Moranz regrets that she never had the opportunity to thank her mother for selflessly giving her up for adoption. Even so, she loved being able to get to know her sisters, and she still maintains regular contact with them through email and over the phone.

Eventually, Moranz and her sisters would like to plan a large family reunion so that all of their family members can meet each other. But for now, they're thankful that they somehow managed to find each other. In Moranz's own words, "Now you can see what a true miracle this actually was and continues to be."

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