Overjoyed beyond words to find my birth mother, it was not the happiest of endings I had hoped for. In fact while I was overjoyed she was not. Marlene had not wanted to be found, she was angry, hostile, scared and refused to meet me. 1 year later we would meet and it was everything I imagined it would be…the sweetest of times that I believe set the wheel of healing in motion for both of us. We had 2 years to share and get to know each other. Marlene wrote to me constantly sharing her thoughts and prayers and life. I am eternally grateful for the trust and love she shared.
Back tracking just a bit, after years of searching and coming to the end of the line, I had narrowed my search to about a dozen of possible last contacts. Having discovered my last name of Haimowitz from the New York state birth index for 1953, I had taken to the arduous task of contacting every known Haimowitz I could find in the United States. Little did I know but just months prior to making my positive contact, with a list of 5 woman I thought could possibly be her, I had sent a letter to Marlene that she did not respond too. My inquiry letter did find her youngest sister, Brenda Haimowitz DeFrain in Boca Raton, Florida. Brenda was 3 years old when I was born and I am not sure she even knew about me. With letter in hand she called her older sister Rochelle Haimowitz Steinman and said “I got this letter from some woman who knows a lot about our family.”
Rochelle knew about me, she was 7 when I was born. Rochelle called right away to say I had found my family. In 2002, on Christmas day, myself, daughter Marissa and my adopting mother, Grace Tanner Brown joined both Aunts and their families, and my birth mother’s brother Sheldon Haimowitz at Rochelle’s home, also in Boca Raton. *of interest Grace lived in Delray Beach, Florida just a few miles from Rochelle and families.
This is my Mom Marlene Haimowitz born 23 Jan 1934 died 6 Oct 2005
She is about 18/19 years old in this picture. She has either just had me or is pregnant with me according to sister Rochelle who shared this photo with me.
Marlene was the daughter of
Isidore Haimowitz born 1906 Manhatten, N.Y. and Myra (Minnie) Lipschitz born 1914 Manhattan, N.Y.
I would learn that Isidore died in 1951 when Marlene was 16. She quit high school to help with the family finances and support of mother, older brother Sheldon, younger sister Rochelle and new born baby sister Brenda. It was during this time that Marlene met the handsome Vincenzo Civitano and had a short lived affair. After breaking up Marlene realized she was pregnant. The story told by Marlene to me was that Vincenzo/Vincent came to see her one day. Her mother made her go to her bedroom while she spoke to him. She could see him from her window and he was in an Army uniform. Myra told Vincent that Marlene was not home and had gone to stay with an Aunt. Marlene a few months later made an attempt to contact Vincent by calling his home. She wanted to tell him about me. His mother answered and told Marlene her son was dead. Marlene shocked, thought he had been killed in the war of that time (Korean War) While pregnant with me she met her first husband Michael Ferraiolo who wanted to marry her but insisted she give the baby up for adoption. He would not raise another man’s child. At some point in her pregnancy she entered the LakeView Unwed Mothers Home operated by Louise Wise Adoption Agency located on Staten Island, N.Y.
Here the woman used only their first names or an alias name. I do know that the shame attached to this event in Marlene’s life affected her deeply and shaped the rest of her life.
I was born February 8, 1953 and given the name Donna Haimowitz. Marlene could not recall why the name Donna, if she or her mother had picked it out. Marlene said she held me and was told their was a family that wanted me. However there was not a family waiting, I was placed in a foster home/or orphanage; I have yet to discover what happened to me at that point. When I was 6 months old, my adopting parents always and only told the story that when they came to meet me I was in a playpen under a tree. I think it was out of shame and guilt that Marlene told me, if she knew there had not been another family ready to take me she would not have surrendered me. With Michael F. waiting to take her out of the place and marry her I am sure she was just trying to spare my feelings.
That was the beginning of her life turning her back on her Jewish Heritage. 5 more children were born with 3 other men all non Jewish men. In addition DNA testing results on Ancestry now (2016) suggest there is possibly another 1/2 sibling out there that I have yet to discover/uncover….in conversation with sister Rochelle she confirms it is highly possible there is another child.