Created: Wed, 27 Nov 2013 03:00:00 PST
Updated: Tue, 03 Dec 2013 02:28:30 PST
SAN DIEGO – An Oceanside woman says her life was turned upside down by a Facebook friend request – just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Angela Palmer, 44, says the request came from her mother; a woman who Palmer believed had abandoned her when she was less than a year old.
Over instant messages and emails, Palmer’s mother was finally able to convince her daughter of what really happened: that Palmer had been kidnapped as an infant by her biological father, raised on the run in Europe, and taught to hate a woman who spent decades searching for her.
“It was surreal. You sit there. You try to take it all in. You try to make sense of it, and you have so many conflicting emotions,” Palmer said. “You don't know to be happy, to be angry, to just dismiss it, to follow it; you don't know what to do.”
Born in the German town of Salzkotten, Palmer and her father were constantly on the move. She says they shuttled between cities in Germany and France twelve times by her 18th birthday.
“What he was telling us was he was a traveling salesman, so we would have to move from area to area to get new clients and so on, when in all actuality he was wanted by the German government,” she said.
Palmer's mother Helga later explained her father was wanted for kidnapping Palmer and for domestic violence.
When her parents divorced, her mother was granted sole custody, Palmer said. Her father was deeply in debt, and his parents told him he would be cut off if he lost custody of the child, Palmer said.
Palmer eventually cut ties with her father when she turned 18 and moved to the U.S. Back in Europe, Helga continued the desperate search for daughter, eventually tracking down her Facebook profile through a mutual acquaintance.
Palmer and her mother spoke via Skype inside San Diego 6’s studio last week, the first time the two had seen each other since Palmer was a child. Now remarried, Helga Simecki lives with her husband in Croatia.
Palmer is now hoping to raise enough money to see her mother in person, and has started an online crowd-sourcing campaign.
“There's so much catching up to do and so much that needs to be filled in. Until last Friday [Nov. 15], I had no family. Now I have a mother… a big extended family. I don't know how to explain it. It just makes for a nice holiday.”