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Teen Impregnated By Rapist Miraculously Reunites With Her Daughter 77 Years Later

( [email protected] ) Jul 14, 2015 12:25 PM EDT
In a heartwarming story of faith and perseverance, a mother who was raped at 16 years old has finally reunited with the daughter she prayed for every day since giving her up for adoption.
100-year-old Minka Disbrow (right) is reunited with her daughter Ruth Lee in California after being separated for 77 years
Ruth Lee

In a heartwarming story of faith and perseverance, a mother who was raped at 16 years old was finally reunited with the daughter she prayed for every day since giving her up for adoption 77 years earlier.

In 1928, 16-year-old Minka Disbrow was having a picnic with some friends in the woods of South Dakota when she was cornered in the woods by three strange men. Without warning, the men attacked and raped the teen.

"It was so traumatic, all I could remember was this young man had a cowboy hat on," she recalled.

A few months after the horrific event, Minka found out she was pregnant by rapists. Pregnant and unwed--a condition highly frowned up in those days--Minka's mother and stepfather sent her to a Lutheran home for pregnant girls.

While she wanted to keep her baby, a girl she named Betty Jane, Minka knew she couldn't provide her with the kind of life she wanted to. Thus, a month after giving birth, Minka gave up her baby for adoption.

"It hurt to give her up because I'd been with her for a whole month but you knew it was the best for her and I had to go on," she recalled.

However, she never stopped praying for Betty Jane, especially on her birthday every year, hoping she would one day see her daughter again.

As the years passed and Betty Jane entered into adulthood, Minka attempted to contact her daughter and her adoptive parents. However, it was over 80 years before a judge released the adoption papers.

"I always prayed or her especially on her birthday, and I would say, "Father just let me see her, I won't bother her. I just want to see her," Minka said.

She added, "I thought I'd have great-great grandchildren--I just wanted to know where my family--I just wanted to see them."

In 2006, two months after praying a particularly fervent prayer, begging God to see her now 77-year-old daughter, Minka received a miracle: a call from a woman named Ruth Lee--also known as Betty Jane.  

"She said, 'When can we come and see you?' I said 'Soon as you can--soon as you can!'" Minka recalled.

After joyfully meeting her mother, Ruth revealed that she had been raised by a Norwegian pastor and his wife and had gone on to marry and have six children.

Minka emphasized, "It was God. It was like we never, ever parted, and we were just coming home. We laughed, and we giggled--like we were just coming home for a visit."

"I had no idea what she looked like. It was a joy," she continued. "But to me, even to this day, she's still Betty Jane. Moreso than Ruth. I call her Ruth because they all call her Ruth, but to me, she's still my Betty Jane."

Noted Ruth, "Well, all she prayed for was to see me. She promised God, she said she wouldn't bother me. So she got a whole lot more than she prayed for, believe you me!" she chuckled. 

Minka died in 2014 at the age of 102, after spending her final years with her beloved daughter.

Last year, Cathy LaGrow, Ruth's daughter and Minka's granddaughter, captured their amazing story in a book titled The Waiting

In her book, LaGrow writes,"Minka finally watched her daughter blow out her candles and make a wish for the future. Silverware clinked and voices rose in laughter and light shone off water glasses as they were raised to lips. The scene was simple and ordinary and perfect. Waiting had been worth it. Her daughter had been worth it."   

You can order The Waiting here or watch Minka and Ruth tell their story here.  

"The Waiting brings three generations of this most unusual family together over the course of a century to tell a story of faith that triumphs, forgiveness that sets us free, and love that never forgets," reads the book description.