A woman’s search for her mother turned into a surprising reunion for Belen resident Lupe Ferguson.

While helping a friend follow a lead for a woman supposedly born in Los Chavez 53 years ago, Ferguson realized a secret she had been carrying for the same number of years would have to be revealed.

The woman, Maria Beinhauer, is the daughter Ferguson gave up for adoption in 1949.

“I knew how it felt to not know where my child was, so I thought I’d help her find her mother,” Ferguson said. “Then, as I got clues from people in the Los Chavez area about a foster child living there in the ’50s, I realized the woman I was helping might be my daughter.”

A phone call to Beinhauer by Ferguson’s daughter, Willie, obtained the final pieces of information that connected the mother and daughter together at last.

“I can’t explain the emotions that flowed through me in those few minutes,” Beinhauer said of the first phone call with her mother. “It was my dream coming true to finally meet my mother.”

In 1949, Ferguson began living with a secret when she gave birth to her second child and gave it up for adoption.

“I had the child in my parent’s home on Mesa Road, with the help of a midwife. The only people who knew of the birth were my mother, father and one aunt,” Lupe said.

“Because of situations in my life, I gave the child up. I had been told it was best for the child. Then, my husband and I moved to California with our first daughter.”

Over the years, she wondered what had happened to her child.

Maria was raised by two different families in the Los Chavez area before moving to Albuquerque when she was in the sixth grade. Before she stepped out into the world on her own, she lived with five different families.

“I knew from a young age that I didn’t fit into the family I was living with. I didn’t know why. But, all that time, I felt an empty hole in my heart — that something was missing,” Maria said.

“When my daughters were born, I really felt the pain and emptiness and the strong urge to find my mother. I kept wondering who my daughters resembled, besides my husband’s side of the family,” she said.

Through the years, Beinhauer returned to New Mexico to search for clues about her mother. Each time, she learned a little more, but always came to a dead end.

“My birth certificate was changed to the point that it was just not feasible that I could have been born to the first couple that took me in,” she said. “They both passed away when I was in elementary school, and I was sent to a foster home.”

Meanwhile, Ferguson kept her secret to herself because she was not sure how her two daughters, siblings and relatives would react to the news.

“Before I called Maria, I told my daughters, Fran and Willie,” Lupe said. “I was afraid of how they would take it, but they both were very happy to discover they had another sister.”

April 16 is a special day for Beinhauer. Not only is it her wedding anniversary, but now it is the day she received her first call from her mother.

“After hearing the angelic voices of my sister and mother and realizing my quest to find my mother was over, I hung up the phone and said to my husband ‘Guess what, honey? You have a mother-in-law!'” Beinhauer said of that first phone call.

The estranged family reunited in May when Maria and her daughters came to Belen.

“As we came up the steps of my mother’s house I didn’t know what to expect,” Beinhauer said. “I had so many questions, but everything was forgotten when the door opened and the hugging and kissing began.”

The reunion included a gathering of family and friends at which Maria was reunited with people she knew while living in Los Chavez, so she and her family could meet her mother’s family.

“Not only did I discover my mother, but I learned I have two sisters, along with aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews,” Beinhauer said. “It is amazing to discover that I have all of these relatives I never knew about.”

Her sisters were happy, too. “I was thankful of the blessing of another sister. But, as the littlest sister in the family, I’m glad I didn’t have to put up with two big sisters while I was growing up,” Willie Ferguson said with a smile. “I am glad to have two additional nieces.”

To share their early lives with their grandmother and aunt, Maria’s daughters, Theressa and Deanne, who have both graduated from high school, made a photo album of their childhood.

“It is such a joy to have this album and to see what I missed as they were growing up,” Lupe said. “I was amazed at how much Maria looked like me in her photos from her childhood. I cherish these photos.”

“Mother’s Day was so special to me this year,” said Beinhauer. “I got to buy my first Mother’s Day card that actually meant something to me. I cried as I was looking at the large variety of cards as I tried to find the perfect one.”

Another treat for Beinhauer is an everyday occurrence for most mothers and daughters.

“I can finally relate now to when someone says ‘I called, talked or saw my mother today.'” In the past, I have always heard friends say those sentences, but they were all empty sentences to me. At last I know and feel what they meant.”

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Jane Moorman