Houma woman reunites with long-lost daughter

By JASON R. MAYO
The Courier
February 18. 2004 12:00AM

HOUMA, LA. — A Houma woman was reunited this week with the daughter she
says was stolen from her nearly 50 years ago.

Freddie Mae Davis was living in New York City 47 years ago when she left
her 3-month-old baby girl with a trusted friend.

Davis said that woman, whom she did not name, couldn’t have children of
her own so she simply took Esther Mitchell and vanished.

Davis said she reported the kidnapping to police and searched in vain
herself for three years before returning to Louisiana empty-handed.

Decades later, long after she says she had given up hope that she would
see her missing child again, a simple telephone call ended years of
heartache.

“Oh Lord, it just feels so good,” Davis said. “I feel like I don’t even
know how to explain it. … I feel like everything’s all right.”

On Monday, nearly two months after the telephone call that led Mitchell
to her long-lost mother, Mitchell arrived in south Louisiana for an
in-person visit with Davis and the rest of the family.

Mitchell’s Monday arrival at the New Orleans airport marked the first
time Davis had seen her daughter since she was small enough to cradle.

“I just threw my arms around her and held her tight,” Davis said of the
reunion.

Davis, now happily reunited with her long-lost child, talked about the
long-ago kidnapping that led to their years apart.

Davis said her daughter’s kidnapper was a friend she trusted. She said
she still remembers the woman talking about how she couldn’t have
children of her own and her desire to have a baby.

One day, Davis said, she went to retrieve baby Mitchell and discovered
she, and the baby-sitter, had vanished.

Davis said she searched for years, to no avail, and finally returned to
Louisiana to raise her other children.

Mitchell, on the other hand, says she wound up living in foster homes
because the woman who took her abandoned her when she was 12 or 13.

Mitchell, who still lives in New York City, said she felt abused by the
hand that life dealt her.

“My life was taken by other people,” she said.

Davis, 69, has two sons and four other daughters but said she always
ached for the child who was taken.

“On Christmas Day she called me after 47 years,” Davis said, explaining
the daughter she couldn’t find managed to find her. “It was the best
Christmas present I ever had.”

Mitchell said she tracked down her mother through an Internet search
after finding Davis’ name on her birth certificate.

Davis said the phone call initially left her speechless, but she has made
up for it since. The two have spoken two or three times a day since they
reconnected. Mitchell said she also calls her sisters daily.

Davis said the first mother-daughter outing she took Mitchell on was to
“make groceries” needed to cook her a welcome-home dinner.

The pair also bought matching outfits during their shopping trip to wear
at a family barbecue Tuesday. The barbecue is where Mitchell got to meet
the rest of her family for the first time.

“I’m happy to find my family — especially my mother,” Mitchell said of
the reunion.

Now Mitchell said she’s making plans for another visit later this year
and eventually plans a move to Louisiana to be with her newfound family.

“There’s hope,” she said, offering encouragement to others searching for
lost family members. “Don’t give up. Just keep on looking for them.”

Staff writer Jason R. Mayo can be reached at (985) 857-2204 or
jason.mayo@houmatoday.com.

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