Once, Cyndi Lane had parents and cousins and aunts and uncles, and then she had none. Eight years ago, a cousin came to visit with Lane’s newborn son, and the two had an emotional heart-to-heart. “I need to tell you something that’s going to change the rest of your life,” the cousin suddenly blurted out. It was what Lane had always subconsciously known: she had been adopted. For decades, her dark-haired Italian family refused to admit to their suspiciously blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter that she wasn’t their biological child, even though the whole family knew otherwise. When Lane confronted them—and announced that she wanted to search for her birth parents—her adoptive family became upset. They haven’t spoken with Lane much since the blowout.
Meanwhile, the revelation launched Lane—now 44 and an insurance adjuster—on a seemingly impossible search for her birth mother, a woman she knew only by her “non-identifying information”: hairdresser, 37 years old at the time of her birth, four previous kids, C-section patient. For eight years, Lane hired multiple private investigators, poured through microfilm hospital records, and filed requests of New York’s state adoption agencies. “It was one dead end after another,” she says. Despite this, the search consumed her, and she pressed on. “I just couldn’t stop. I thought about it every day of my life.”