Mother, daughter reunite after 40 years

Even though she gave her daughter up for adoption decades ago, a Savannah woman says she never stopped searching for her child.

After years of waiting, a mother and child were joyously reunited on Friday.

Sandi Nielsson has waited for this day for more than 40 years.

"A long time ago, when I was 19, I had a child and I gave her up for adoption in Montana," said Nielsson. "I never saw her but was promised she would go to a good home, which made me feel good."

Several years later, Nielsson started seeking her daughter through online sites, but the state's adoption laws prevented her from doing so.

"The documents in Montana are sealed and the only way I could contact her is if she contacted me," said Nielsson.

Then one day her wish came true.

"It popped up and said, Baby Girl Holly. That is what I named her when she was born," said Nielsson. "It said I have been looking for my birth parents, and my mother is an artist and I want to know where you are. I said, 'oh my gosh.'  I lost it right there."

This is Nielsson's first face-to-face meeting with her daughter Julie Hakert.

"There she is. There she is, hurry," said Nielsson as Hakert walked off the plane. "You are beautiful. You look like me."

Tears and hugs were abundant as the two tried to make up for the years lost.

"It is surreal," said Hakert. "I have been waiting for this day my whole life."

Hakert also passed the years trying to find her birth mother, and who she was.

"I am bi-racial and walking around people always come up to me and ask what are you?" said Hakert. "What is your background? I have to say, I don't know. When you go through life and you are constantly having to say I don't know what I am, it's a bigger reason to find your parents. I can't believe it's finally happened."

"My God, Julie, we look so much alike," said Nielsson.

This is the first Mother's Day that Hakert will spend with the woman who gave birth to her.

"Sandi I always loved you," said Hakert. "To know you have to give a baby up so they can have a better life, because you are so young."

"This is the best mother's day gift ever," said Nielsson.

Nielsson is having a welcome home party for her daughter and her closest friends Friday at her restaurant 606 East Cafe.

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