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Finding the family she didn't know she lost

Marion Blane discovers her birth mother, brothers, at 54


Marion Blane, of Bellmore, grew up as an only child. She described her childhood as “golden,” spending 24 hours a day, seven days a week with her parents. As a youngster, she helped them run a cosmetics business in Levittown, and continued doing so for more than 30 years. And, she said, she never once sensed anything amiss in her relationship with her parents — until she became pregnant at 20.

“I saw right away that there was no camaraderie with my mother — and we spoke about everything,” Blane, now 54, said.

She was surprised to find no sense of shared experience; her mother had no wisdom to impart on making it through the pregnancy. “There was just something off . . . She never gave me any details of her pregnancy,” Blane said.

That was Blane’s first child; she would have two more over the next 17 years. Her mother died when Blane was 37, living with her husband and running her own business. Her father sat her down then and told her something her mother concealed for years: She was adopted. She had a mother and two brothers, somewhere.

“My father had wanted to tell me all those years,” Blane said. “He wanted me to meet my parents. He said he had a feeling my dad wasn’t living, but, ‘Your mother’s still alive.’”

Blane recalled her father telling her, while she was still reeling, “Go look for her.”

It was a yearslong project, marked with some uncertainty, Blane said. Her father told her that her mother lived in Coney Island, where she had Blane on Feb. 13, 1964, unmarried and unready to be a parent. Blane went to the New York City Public Library to pore over birth records with her friend Linda Greenberg. She found her birth, and her birth name — Madeleine Friedman.

“I was toying with the idea — Do I even want to meet these people?” Blane said. “I had a name, but what was I going to do with that?”

She later hired a private investigator, who turned up nothing. For years, however, Greenberg needled Blane — until last October, when she gave her friend the number of Pamela Slaton, an investigative genealogist Greenberg saw on the TV show “20/20.”

“I made the initial call for her,” Greenberg said last week. “I was happy to — she had a mother!”

Slaton found Blane’s mother in two days, living in Delray, Fla. Blane asked for more information, and was indignant at first when Slaton told her she needed to wire her payment first.

“I said, ‘Well, this is a scam,’ but I wired her the money,” Blane said. “That was Saturday. On Monday morning, she sent me the email with my mother’s picture, and she looked just like me.”

Blane now had the phone number for her birth mother, Sharyn Friedman. The Tuesday night before Thanksgiving, she sat in a parking lot, feeling as if on a precipice.

“I was nervous, but I knew I was going to do this,” Blane said. Slaton “told me what to say.”

Blane followed her script, and told her mother, “It’s come to my attention that we’re related.”

Friedmanstarted to cry, and put Blane on hold. “I counted nine minutes,” Blane said. “I said, ‘She’s never coming back to the phone.’”

Her mother did pick back up, though, asking Blane when she was born. When Blane told her Feb. 13, 1964, Friedman became hysterical. “She said, ‘I don’t believe this — I promised them I would never look for you and I would never interrupt your life,’” Blane recalled.

Friedman, 75, was “nervous and upset,” but Blane quelled her panic, and told her she could call her back when she was ready.

Thanksgiving morning, Friedman texted. Then the mother and daughter spoke at length as family surrounded Blane.

“She said, ‘I wanna meet you. You have two brothers, who are really your brothers,’” Blane said.

Soon she spoke with both of her brothers, Marc and Christopher Cosa, who lived in New York and were a few years younger than Blane. After looking at their Facebook photos, Blane saw “duplicates of me.”

Blane and her husband drove to the Rockaways shortly afterward, where her brothers had flown Friedman up for the meeting. First cousins and uncles she didn’t know she had greeted her. They all had the same thing to say to Blane.

“They all said, ‘You just made this lady so happy,’” Blane recalled.

Now, Blane has made several trips to Delray to visit her mother — she’s headed there again in one week. “I can’t stay away now,” she said.

She speaks on the phone twice a day with her brothers, who call her at 8:40 a.m. when she’s headed to work, and when she comes home. “They’re going to call me soon, actually, and ask, ‘Were you working late? We didn’t hear from you,’” Blane said Monday.

The past four months have been marked by a “totally complete feeling,” Blane said. She picked up a relationship with her mother and brothers as if they had grown up together.

“It’s like . . . beyond,” she said, laughing. “I need nothing else in my life — nothing. This is it. I guess I felt all those years after my father told me, definitely incomplete, because it’s like you don’t know anything. I really just wanted a picture. I didn’t want a meet-and-greet, but Linda made me do it.”

Greenberg said she was thrilled to have played a part. Ever since Blane’s father told her the truth, she had pushed for her to track down her family. “Her adopted parents were wonderful . . . but her mother and these brothers were biological,” she said.

Blane’s husband, Gary, and three adult children, she said, weren’t as excited as she was, but have taken her new chapter in stride. “It’s a lot to process for them,” she said.

Blane’s daughter Jaclyn, 29, said on Monday that she was happy to see her mother’s curiosity satisfied — as well as some of her own.

“I grew up being my mom’s twin,” she said. “So we always wondered, did she look like her mom?”

“It was such a crazy feeling for all of us — it was awesome,” Jaclyn continued. “They both just kept smiling. Their mannerisms are very similar. I hope one day my kid looks like me that way.”