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Norris continues her search for family

Several years ago, the late The Post-Searchlight reporter Mary Frances Donalson did a article on me telling the story of how, after living with a woman for 56 years and thinking she was my “mother,” at her death, I found out that she had kidnapped me as a baby of less than a year old.

But thanks to the mercy of God and the help of computers, my real family had found me and we were reunited in February of 2001. I met all of my four sisters, a brother, two aunts, several cousins and numerous nieces and nephews on my real mother’s side of the family. They were scattered over all corners of the United States, but we have all gotten together over these last few years, reconnecting the bond of family.

But the one bad thing in this situation regarded my biological father. He had been a British sailor stationed in Maryland during World War II and had to go back to England before I was born. After my birth, my real mother decided not to follow him to England as she had promised and due to that fact, he divorced her from England and my mother refused letters from him. When I was kidnapped, she was ashamed to let him know, so he had no way of knowing what had happened to me.

Well, when my sisters found me, they only had his name and the address that he had lived when he had married our mother. So I proceeded in 2001 to try and locate him or any member of his family. Not an easy task to accomplish. I tried the address and had no luck either by phone or mail. From there I contacted the British Navy through the Internet. They had a person who tried to help me locate him but he had no luck either. So I went to my last resort—newspapers.

I looked up on the Internet the local paper for the area of England he had lived in and got the name of the newspaper and called. I explained my story to a wonderful editor who told me she would be glad to put an article in the “Personal Section” of the paper and would send me a copy and hoped it would help and wished me luck.

Well low and behold, three weeks later, I get a letter from a lady who says she is my father’s half-sister, asking if I was sure he was my father. I called her and explained to her I have proof of that fact and she made arrangements to come to the United States to visit me. This was in 2004.

She came and told me I have three aunts, several cousins, a step-sister and a half-sister. I am so excited. But she says the family has broken up, as my father’s wife wants him to have nothing to do with the family and no one has seen him in years. She will see what she can do when she returns to England. Several years pass and I heard nothing and couldn’t get her on the phone or to return my messages.

Then in 2006, a miracle happens. My aunt had sent my step-sister a copy of the article and she had in turn sent it to my half-sister. My half-sister, Victoria, read the article but by this time it was very faded, so she went on the Internet and looked up my name to find my address and wrote me a letter. We have now phoned, wrote and e-mailed for three years but neither were able to travel and meet one another.

Well, this year, my sister retired at 60 and received a bonus for her retirement. That bonus went toward buying her a plane ticket to Tallahassee and on Monday, Sept. 14, at approximately 5:30 p.m., we met in person for the first time. The resemblance was remarkable, as we both have our father’s nose and I have his eyes. She recognized me immediately. We have now spent the last week and a half getting to know each other, while she has been getting to know her nieces, Dorcy Glass, Donna Rhodes, Shelly Rogers and their families, who all live in Bainbridge. We also took a visit to Jacksonville to meet one of my sisters on my mother’s side, Pat Clark, who was responsible for finding me in 2001.

Now the “Stolen Identity” saga has been completed and my family is all now connected and whole again. Meeting your own sister for the first time in your life, when you are almost 66 and she is 60, is both tragic and wonderful.

Tragic in the sense that something this awful could have happened to us during all these years and that both my mother and father had passed away before we had a chance to meet.

But wonderful in the sense that God has corrected this terrible mistake. And the irony of this whole thing is that my name is Mary Victoria Godley Norris and her name is Victoria Godley. She may have to go back to England this week, but you can believe that with the Internet and the phone, we will stay busy with all our catching up and staying in touch.