Reunion after two decades
Heart-wrenching memories of when nurses seized her newborn baby are forever etched in the mind of Lizette Muller.
At 19 years old the South African woman gave birth in a home for pregnant teens.
"They threw a towel over my head and took her away. I didn't even get to see her," Mrs Muller says.
Two decades later and the Torbay woman, now also a mother to two teenage boys, has reunited with her daughter Simone who lives in Pretoria.
The pair formed an instant bond over Skype and email and Mrs Muller plans to visit her for the first time later this year.
Simone's adopted father died in hospital this week and her adopted mother died of a stroke three years ago.
"She feels so alone. It just breaks my heart. She has a feeling like she doesn't belong. I need to be there for her," Mrs Muller says.
Unable to afford the trip, Mrs Muller is offering to do odd jobs to raise the money.
Up until July Mrs Muller had no contact with her firstborn child. When Simone's adopted father fell ill he gave permission for her to contact Mrs Muller.
"For years I would look into every pram wondering if it was her. I would find myself thinking what she might look like.
"When she made contact I was laughing and crying, releasing 20 years of emotions that I had put into a pressure pot."
Reuniting with Simone has put to rest long-held feelings of shame and guilt, Mrs Muller says.
"There are times I think I should've tried harder to keep her. I often blame myself, but I couldn't give her a future.
"My parents tried forcing me to have an abortion but I couldn't kill her. I fought hard and I'm so grateful now because otherwise I wouldn't have a daughter."
Five years ago Mrs Muller moved to New Zealand for a better life with her family.
She says Simone holds no resentment towards her and has had a good upbringing.
"She really loves her adopted parents and has always known that she was adopted.
"It took guts from her side. If she didn't forgive me and I didn't forgive myself then this wouldn't have happened. People need to know there can be joy after sadness."
Contact Lizette Muller 021 070 2615 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you can offer her work to raise funds to visit Simone.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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