A MOTHER and daughter who thought they had lost contact forever have found each other following a transatlantic search.
Elizabeth Presley did not see or speak to the daughter she was forced to give up for adoption as a toddler - and who later moved to America to start a new life - for about 18 years.
But Mrs Presley, from Spennymoor, in County Durham, and her daughter, Kathryn Barron, are now back in touch and rebuilding their relationship over the internet.
Mrs Presley, 59, had believed her daughter did not want her in her life and Ms Barron feared her mother was dead.
But while reading The Northern Echo online, from her home in California, she stumbled across a story that showed her mother could still be living in Spennymoor.
Ms Barron contacted The Northern Echo which was able to track down Mrs Presley and the two have been in contact since before Christmas.
They now exchange long emails once or twice a week to catch up on all the lost years and Mrs Presley is getting to know all about her daughter and the two grandsons she did not know existed.
Mrs Presley had found herself pregnant and unmarried at 17 and ended up in a mothers and babies home near Bishop Auckland.
She went on to marry and have another daughter but faced a lot of difficulties and pressure, including the breakdown of her marriage, and was forced to give her children up for adoption.
She said: “It was heartbreaking, I wanted them with me.
“It killed me inside but in those days I didn’t have a choice.”
Mrs Presley treasured the occasional meeting she was able to enjoy with her eldest daughter but as she was with a new family it became increasingly difficult to maintain and the visits stopped when she was about seven.
She said: “After all these years I remember each day with her like it was yesterday, there are some very painful memories but little bits of joy along the way that I’ve held on to.
“For years I would make stories up to tell people as if she was still in my life, I didn’t want to think about her not being in my life.
“When she was born I said she was my little china doll and she still is to me.”
Mrs Presley went on to enjoy 30 years of happy marriage with late husband Ron Springthorpe and it was during this happier stage of her life that she and her first child were able to briefly rekindle their relationship.
By then her daughter was in her late teens and living in Darlington but after about a year the pair again lost contact.
Ms Barron, now 36, later moved to America to start a new life where she now has two sons at school.
She told The Northern Echo: “I often read the UK papers and was surprised to see a photograph of my mother, in one of your heart warming stories.
“With your assistance we now communicate often and have a lot of news to catch up on.”
Both women hope that they will one day be able to meet up again in person.
Mrs Presley said: “I have got hope back, that someday I will be able to hold her.
“There is a lot of sadness about the things I have missed out on, important things in her life, her children, sending cards and presents on special days, opportunities to tell her I care.
“Being apart doesn’t stop a mother’s love and to have her back in my life is incredible.”