Lufkin woman reunited with family after 30 years - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Lufkin woman reunited with family after 30 years

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Source: Claudia Leal Source: Claudia Leal
Source: Claudia Leal Source: Claudia Leal
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) -

An East Texas woman says she was nine years old the last time she saw her others and sisters.

She and her mother moved to East Texas after her mother remarried, but eventually her mother abandoned her to take care of a sick relative.

Claudia Leal was taken in as a teen to start a new life and 30 years later found her family.

"They took me in, I was 16 years old, until my step mother and step father died I called them step mom and step dad because that's all I knew and I just made my own little life," said Leal.

Claudia Leal moved to Lufkin with her mom at the age of nine, seven years later her mom her mom returned to Mexico leaving her behind.

"We stayed estranged this whole time until now," said Leal.

Leal says her sick grandmother prompted her mom's return to Mexico.  

"It was a bad thing but then it was a good thing at the end of the day," said Leal

 As she got older Leal says she made several failed attempts to reconnect with her family.

This year Leal says her mother was in failing health and hoped to see her one last time.

"She kept asking them to find me and they kept trying and trying," said Leal.

And in September her siblings finally found her, Leal says they messaged through facebook and eventually over the phone.

Last week Leal made the trip to Mexico but not in time to see her mother who died two months ago.

"I was like could this be after 30 something years, I had given up looking," Leal.

The 43-year-old says seeing her four brothers and two sisters was an emotional experience but Leal says after 34 years it felt like no time had passed and she was welcomed with open arms.

"It happened on its own and I wouldn't say sooner than later but it happened and it's still kind of unbelievable but I knew it was time," said Leal.

Now that she has reconnected with her family Leal says this an opportunity for her children to know where they've come from.

"When I leave this world they have a back up, someone they can call and get help from," said Leal

Leal says she's planning to go back to Mexico in three months this time with her children, so they can meet their family.

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