When Susan Mote set out to find her biological parents, she got a new set of relationships and answers — just not the ones she was expecting.
Mote, 48, of Shirley, had been abandoned as a baby in 1968 and knew little about her origins until this week. On Wednesday, Mote reunited with the teen who found her in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and family members of his who briefly cared for her in her earliest days.
“I never knew what I looked like as a baby. I never knew where I even was. I never knew where my name came from,” Mote said Thursday. “And it was the most amazingest feeling in the whole world to meet him.”
Mote took the Port Jefferson ferry to the Bridgeport ferry station on Wednesday morning, where she met Bob Halstead, now 65. The pair embraced as a tearful Mote said, “Thank you so much.”
“It was a wonderful experience,” Halstead, of Bridgeport, said.
Growing up on Long Island, Mote knew she had been adopted at age 1 and her adoptive parents were told that her biological mother may have dropped Mote off at a Connecticut post office. She had questions but wasn’t compelled to look for answers until she and one of her daughters experienced several health scares a few years ago.
“I would look and then I would stop, and then I would look and I would stop,” she said. “I was just looking for my biological parents and my medical records.”
She reviewed newspaper clippings and looked for adoption records. One piece of evidence stood out, though: a small local item in a Connecticut newspaper about a 16-year-old boy who found a newborn baby at a mailbox on his way to school. The boy’s name was Bob Halstead.
Mote, a nurse, said she tracked him down on Facebook and messaged him last week. He agreed to meet up on Wednesday.
“I always wished I could know what happened and I started crying when I read” her message, said Halstead, a historical preservation consultant. “I almost didn’t want to know her story because of all the scenarios that could have happened.”
Mote said Halstead showed her the corner where he found her and took her to his childhood home, where his mother still lives.
The visit was eye-opening, she said. The way Halstead tells it, he was on his way to school on a chilly fall morning when he saw a box sitting by the mailbox around the corner from his home.
He peeked inside and saw what he thought was a baby doll with red curly hair, wrapped in green velour. Then the doll moved, and Halstead went running home to his mother.
“I knew it couldn’t have been a doll,” he said.
Halstead’s mother took the baby home and called 911 while Halstead went off to school. His teachers were skeptical of his excuse for tardiness until the newspaper story ran, he said.
“It’s all these little details,” Mote said. “I never knew I was born with red hair. My children were born with red hair, and we didn’t know where that came from until yesterday.”
After a few hours with the Halsteads, the baby was taken to a hospital, where nurses named her Susan.
The Halsteads lost track of “Baby Susan” after two months. They last knew she went to a home for abandoned children, but always wondered what happened afterward.
Halstead said the reunion was an important moment for his family. His mother and siblings also met Mote Wednesday, as did the children of a neighbor who helped tend to Baby Susan. They chatted for hours, and Halstead said they consider Mote part of the family, with plans to meet up again soon.
Mote said that while she didn’t get any leads on her mother’s identity, the information she did get is revealing enough.
She said, “If I never get to meet my biological parents, it’s OK, because meeting them [the Halsteads] filled such a big gap in my life.”