We turn back the clock and find ourselves in November 1963. A woman named Julie Mannix was living in Philadelphia, USA. She was 19 years old and deeply in love with a man named Frank von Zerneck. But there was a dark cloud that hung over their relationship.
Her family, who were very wealthy, refused to acknowledge their love.
One day Julie went to her gynecologist for a routine check up. The doctor was a friend of the family, and he made an unexpected discovery: Julie was pregnant! But he didn’t tell Julie. Instead, he took the news to Julie’s mother.
For Julie’s family, giving birth outside of wedlock was completely unacceptable. But they also had to take the law into account: Abortion was against the law in the US at the time.
So what did Julie’s parents do? They didn’t tell Julie she was pregnant. The family decided to find other explanations and lies to avoid telling Julie she was pregnant. The weeks went by and her mother and father came up with a plan: They told Julie that she was suffering with depression. That’s how they convinced her to see a psychiatrist. At the time, it was legal to perform abortions on mentally unwell people.
She refused abortion – and was locked up
It was around that time that Julie discovered she was pregnant. She refused to have an abortion, and wanted to keep her child.
Her parents chose to keep her locked up in the mental hospital for 6 months. Until her waters broke.
On April 19th 1964 little Aimee was born. Julie was only allowed to see her daughter for a few moments, before she was forced to sign the adoption papers – and let Aimee go.
Julie was devastated. All she wanted was to be reunited with her little daughter.
She tried and tried. She contacted different church organizations to see if they had any information about where Aimee was.
Hoped for a reunion
The months went by, and she received the same answers to all of her questions: Authorities couldn’t give Julie any information about her daughter. She hoped and prayed that Aimee had ended up with a good family. But she still lived in hope that one day she would be reunited with her daughter.
Julie was obviously traumatized by the whole experience. She left the hospital and continued searching. She moved to New York and began to support herself as an actress. In 1965 she married Frank, and every year, on April 19th, they celebrated their daughter’s birthday. The couple felt that Aimee was with them, even though she wasn’t there physically.
Where was her daughter?
So where was Aimee? It turns out that she had been adopted by a very good family, and had been given the name Kathleen Marie Wisler. Tragically, her adoptive mom died when she was just 6 years old. A few years later she also lost her adoptive dad.
Kathleen grew up and became a mom herself. She also found out about her history, and wanted to find her biological mom more than anything in the world, and to build the relationship they never had the chance to have when she was born in the 60s. She turned to her town’s social services to try and locate Julie. Soon she found a lead – on a movie directory online, (the well known directory IMDb). There she found the name Julie Mannix – the actress who was Kathleens’ mother.
Found her mom – online
She stared at the computer screen. There was a photo of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman. Her mother.
On that webpage she was able to read that Julie had married a producer, Frank, just one year after Kathleen’s birth. She decided to get in contact – a decision that would send the whole family’s life spiralling in a new direction.
She wrote a letter to her biological parents. They made contact, and began talking to each other via video messaging service Skype.
“I never imagined I would feel like a daughter again, and yet here I am, cherished by two strong and thoughtful parents who worry when my kids are sick and who call for no reason,” Kathleen writes in an emotional article in Redbook Magazine.
They were reunited late in life, but despite the terrible decision Julie’s parents were forced to make 50 years ago, they now feel like a family again.
You can watch Julie talk about her experiences, which have also been made into a book, below: