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CBS2 hairdresser Lynne Schilling-Rivera goes on emotional journey to find her birth parents

Long Island woman goes on emotional journey to find her birth parents
Long Island woman goes on emotional journey to find her birth parents 04:02

NEW YORK -- Adopted as a child, the search for her biological parents has been difficult, but CBS2 helped one of our own find her father.

Lynne Schilling-Rivera has, for decades, had one desire.

"I just wanted to find my birth parents," she said.

She grew up in Elmont on Long Island with the couple that adopted her.

She lost her adoptive mother and her adoptive father to health conditions, and that's when she began a search, which became more trying than she ever imagined.

"This was a closed adoption, which means there's no names on any certificates," Schilling-Rivera said.

"You hit a lot of dead ends along the way," CBS2's Mary Calvi said.

"I did. I stopped the search for a very long time, and then when we were in COVID, up at the newsroom, we just started searching again," Schilling-Rivera said.

Watch: Hear from Schilling-Rivera about her journey

CBS2 hairdresser opens up about emotional journey to find her birth parents 03:29

Schilling-Rivera is one of those gals at work here at CBS New York, a hairdresser who makes us laugh, and made Calvi cry when she revealed the difficulty in finding her parents.

Calvi got involved, along with Elise Finch, and they brought in the best in the business.

"I kept calling the governor's office, asking, 'Can you help? Can you get us more records?'" CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer said.

Still no leads, until through encouragement, Schilling-Rivera signed up on DNA websites, and she got a match -- a cousin. Calvi told her to get in touch with him right away.

She did, and one cousin reached out to another cousin to take a DNA test, and so on and so on, until after years of work, the path led to an aunt.

"It's not always easy for people to approach a sibling to say, 'You might have had a child,'" Finch said.

After all the years of ups and down and encouragement from her friends, Schilling-Rivera met her family.

Cousin Rachel met her first at the door -- the first blood relative Schilling-Rivera had ever met -- then came cousin Vera, who introduced Schilling-Rivera to the man she's wanted to meet her entire life -- her dad.

Norman Jackson is 75 years old. He went through life never knowing he had a daughter. He has no other children.

"I keep pinching myself. I'm still not quite understanding how God blessed me," he said.

Calvi had the chance to sit down with Schilling-Rivera and Jackson.

"We did it. We actually found you. We found you. Like, I... We found my dad," Schililng-Rivera said.

"I wanted a child, always did," Jackson said.

"I feel like I have a place in this world," Schilling-Rivera said.

Jackson and Schilling-Rivera's mom met in their 20s, but a year into the relationship, she left.

"Never heard from her ever again. Didn't know where to call. I heard Amarillo, Texas," Jackson said.

She kept the secret for more than 40 years. Schilling-Rivera will never have the chance to meet her; she died five years ago.

As for Jackson, while he didn't know, he did have a sense, especially on a certain day of the year.

"Father's Day came. I got off in the corner. I said, 'What am I feeling here? Why am I feeling this?'" Jackson said.

It was right before another holiday -- this past Christmas -- that Jackson heard the life-changing news from his sister.

"'You have a daughter. You have a daughter' ... That feeling, though, is... It's a completion," Jackson said.

"It was Christmas. It's a Christmas miracle," Schilling-Rivera said.

Getting that miracle took years of hard work.

"It gets really rough, but you just have to keep going," Schilling-Rivera said.

"She was thanking you guys through this thing, over and over again," Jackson told Calvi.

"I still feel that I've just been born," Schilling-Rivera said.

And now, together, they have years to catch up on -- Schilling-Rivera filling him in on her music career, Jackson showing his talents as a portrait artist. He painted Schilling-Rivera from a photo she gave him in a week.

"Just want to be the best father for her that I can ever be," Jackson said.

A lifelong dream realized, for both of them.

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