When Angela Palmer's biological mother found her on Facebook and told her she'd been kidnapped by her father as a little girl, the California woman thought it was just another Internet scam. So she did what most of us do when we think we're being scammed. She blocked her.
"I called my friend Charlene, saying this crazy person friend requested me, saying she's my mom," Palmer confessed to The Stir with a laugh. But then Charlene looked at the photos on the mystery woman's Facebook wall and noticed a striking resemblance. Maybe the woman wasn't so crazy after all?
As it turns out, she wasn't. After 44 years without a mother, Angela Palmer learned on the Friday before Thanksgiving that she's had one all along ... and Helga Simecki has been looking for her daughter this whole time.
In an interview with The Stir, Palmer, who lives in San Diego today but was born Angela Hostnik in Germany, explained that it took a day for Helga to convince her that she was really her long-lost daughter.
"You can get so many things off the Internet these days; I wanted serious proof that only family would know," Palmer explained.
What would follow were copies of Palmer's original birth certificate, stories about her appendix, baby pictures that she'd never seen, paperwork showing the various people hired to find her, and the story of how her parents divorced when Palmer was just a baby. Helga was awarded full custody, Palmer said, because her father was physically abusive. But Klaus Hostnik's parents had reportedly told him they would only financially support him if he had custody of his daughter.
"One day, under the guise of taking me to a doctor appointment -- because my mother couldn't afford it -- he took me and never came back," Palmer explained.
It's a story she's only just learned -- her father always told her vague stories about a mother who wasn't very kind. In one he accused the woman of dropping off a baby Angela at an orphanage. In another she was a prostitute.
None, it seems, were true. Helga had tried going through the courts to get her baby back, but she was stymied as Klaus moved constantly, first throughout Germany and then into France. By the time Angela was a teenager, she herself was ready to split from her father and took off for the states, unaware that it would make it even more difficult for her mother to find her.
When it finally happened, right before Thanksgiving, Palmer said it took her breath away.
"I still haven't wrapped my head around it," she admitted. "It's not something you can literally comprehend in a week. I've had 44 years of thinking one way, but then you find out your life was not true.
"It's sinking in that I actually have someone I can spend holidays with, and I have a mother I can call, not just friends," she continued. "I have a stepdad and half-brothers."
Now Angela's biggest holiday wish is to meet her mom in person for the first time in 44 years. Helga lives in Croatia -- she moved there from Germany about seven years ago with her husband, who is Croatian -- but Angela would like to bring her to the states for a visit so she can also meet Angela's 20-year-old son, Helga's grandson, who lives in Pennsylvania.
Her best hope? A fundraising website set up to raise the money it will cost for plane tickets. It's only natural that she'd turn to the Internet to make it happen. After all, it was the Internet that brought daughter back to mother in the first place.
What is the strangest Facebook friend request you've gotten?
Image via Angela Palmer