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After more than 80 years, mother and daughter reunite

Lena Pierce hugs her daughter Betty Morrell.

CBS affiliate WBNG

MAINE, N.Y. -- It has been more than 80 years since 96-year-old Lena Pierce has seen her daughter. But on Friday -- that changed.

CBS affiliate WBNG reported that at the age of 14, Lena Pierce gave birth to a little girl in a Utica, New York, hospital. The year was 1933, and Pierce named the baby Eva May. She cared for Eva May for nearly six months.

"She bathed her, and changed her diapers, and came to love her," Millie Hawk, one of Pierce's daughters, explained to WBNG.

After half a year, New York State took Eva May away from Pierce. WBNG reports that they said she was unfit for motherhood at such a young age.

But that didn't mean Pierce ever stopped thinking about her firstborn.

"There was a lot of times I worried about her and wondered where she was," Pierce said.

Eva May was eventually adopted, and grew up on Long Island. Her name was changed to Betty Morrell, and she was raised as an only child.

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Betty Morrell.
CBS affiliate WBNG

"I had imaginary sisters, and I had imaginary brothers," Morrell said. "And, I had them all named and I would talk to them at night."

Morrell's adoptive parents both died while she was still in her early 20s. Then on her own, she wanted to find her birth parents. But that search would last nearly five decades.

Pierce, meanwhile, was married twice and was a mother to seven more children.

"She was growing up, and I was growing old," Pierce said of Eva May.

After getting clues here and there, Morrell eventually got a few leads in the search for her birth parents. With the help of her granddaughter and some online research, she was able to put the pieces together. She found her birth mother.

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Lena Pierce.
CBS affiliate WBNG

WBNG was there when the pair finally reunited -- 82 years later -- at an airport in Binghamton, New York.

"It seems like it's unbelievable," Pierce said. "All this time, and now I'm finally going to see her again. I would say it's going to be a beautiful day, when I get to see my daughter."

And it was.

The pair embraced, holding on tight.

"Hi mom," Morrell said to a tearful Pierce.

"I'm not alone anymore," Morrell said. "I have my mother, and I have sisters and brothers. It's surreal, but so wonderful to be together again after all this time."