Posted on Tuesday, 07.17.12
After years of fruitless searching, Facebook delivered the key to a long-awaited meeting Tuesday at a restaurant in Deerfield Beach.
When Stephanie Phillips and her mother, Joan Wehrmeyer, first saw each other, the two hugged with tears in their eyes for several moments, not letting go.
As they stood inside the Two Georges at the Cove Waterfront Restaurant and Marina in Deerfield Beach on Tuesday, they held each other tight.
Between the tears and smiles, Wehrmeyer said, “It’s been a long time.”
It had been almost five decades since the two had seen each other.
Last month, mother and daughter reconnected through Facebook for the first time since Wehrmeyer, barely out of high school, left Phillips in the care of her ex-husband, Richard Botwin.
It was in the 1960s when a 17-year-old Wehrmeyer, then Joan Courchene, ran off and married Botwin. She got pregnant shortly after. A disagreement with the Botwin family left Wehrmeyer feeling she had no choice but to leave her daughter with her father.
Meeting her mother for the first time was a dream come true, said Phillips, 48, who lives in Waynesburg, Pa.
“I’ve played this over in my head I don’t know how many times,” she said.
Wehrmeyer, now 67, later moved to South Florida, remarried, had one child and adopted another, and ran a catering business and restaurant. She now lives in Coral Springs.
Her daughter remained with her father in New Jersey.
“As I was growing up I was never allowed to ask any questions,” Phillips said. “It was a completely taboo subject.”
As an adult, she married Rodney Phillips. The couple had searched for Wehrmeyer several times without luck, but they did not give up.
Her husband “made me a promise that we would find her,” Phillips said as she sat across from her mother in a booth at the restaurant.
A couple of years ago, Phillips’ father passed away. Then, she began caring for an ailing aunt.
While filing paperwork for the aunt, Phillips needed a copy of her birth certificate. She finally found her mother’s maiden name, age and where she was from.
Her husband entered the information on a people-search website and found that Wehrmeyer had a Facebook account with her maiden name.
The description matched the one the couple had for her.
“Had she not used her maiden name, we never would have found her,” said Rodney Phillips, who sat by Phillips’ side at the table. …
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