It was a different time.
Sixteen and pregnant is scary at any age, but in Pittsburgh, in 1966, it left a young lady with few choices.
Cathy Nelson found herself in a Catholic home for unwed mothers when she was that girl.
Cathy didn’t know it, but her mother had breast cancer and that may have had a lot to do with Cathy’s mother insisting that she couldn’t keep the baby.
“She, like I did, wanted her to have the best life she could and that wouldn't have been with me,” admits Cathy.
That baby grew up happy and healthy in an adoptive family.
“When I was 17, my dad, every night before I went to bed, he told me he loved me,” says Karen Thurbon. “And I knew they did but there are just some things that they can't answer.”
That’s the power of human DNA.
And it was DNA that eventually led Karen to find her birth mother. Both Karen and Cathy were looking for each other for years.
“Everybody has a right to know where they came from,” Karen says, emphatically.
But they ran into legal roadblocks: “I called an attorney in the town where I grew up I tried to have that done and he told me that was none of my business,” says Karen.
They also had other hurdles to overcome, including the fact that Karen’s birth certificate had the wrong date on it.
“Cathy was searching on the 24th, I was searching on the 23rd. If anything came up on any other day, I just scrolled past it, never gave it any thought,” says Karen – and, just for the record, she was born on Christmas Eve.
But both kept up the search for years.
“I knew it was going to be hard and I didn't know what steps I had to take,” says Karen, “but I just knew I never wanted to give up.”
Cathy would talk to friends about Karen, all the time, and they would ask things like, “‘Don't you ever wonder about her?' And I said, 'I wonder about her, every day, I mean, there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about her.' And I said, 'If I could just see her and know she's okay - she doesn't have to know who I am - but if I could just see her and know that she's okay and that she's happy, that's all I want.’”
They only had tangential luck until Karen’s husband uploaded her DNA information to a website that allows that – MyHeritage.com. It was then, that it all came together.
In this edition of the Buckley Report, see their parallel lives come together after a 50-year wait.
“I don' think anyone should go 50 years without their child, it just shouldn't happen,” says Cathy.