AUBURN, Maine — In 1980, Jeannette Lagasse was living in Lewiston, sick with cancer and the mother of two young children. She needed help. She asked her best friend, a neighbor, to look after her little girl.
Connie Russell and Doris Levasseur knew their sister Jeannette had given birth to Nichole Lagasse. Russell lived in New Hampshire, Levasseur in Arizona. They didn’t meet the baby when she was born and, as it would happen, wouldn’t meet her for decades to come.
The best friend legally adopted Nichole, moved away and changed the child’s name to Angel.
Russell heard through the years that her niece’s new last name was Dube. She searched high and low. Turned out it was spelled Duby.
She heard she lived in Greene. Turned out it was Greenville.
Jeannette died in 2004. Russell vowed to keep looking.
“It [was] sad. It’s not going to be anymore,” said Levasseur, anxiously waiting on an Auburn lawn Friday afternoon.
They had found Angel Duby.
She was running a little late.
“I hope she’s not lost,” said her big brother, Scott Lagasse, 37. He was 4 when he last saw her.
“She’s been lost for 32 years,” Russell gently corrected.
When Duby finally pulled up to Scott’s home on Webster Street, the aunts agreed she looked like mom.
There were hugs and introductions.
“You’re beautiful,” Levasseur told her.
Duby, 32, said she grew up knowing she was adopted. She began her own search in 1997, scouring the Internet for her mother’s and brother’s name and a phone number. Scott told her recently they only had a phone once, briefly, and the number was unlisted.
Searching under her mother’s name this spring, a friend found a link to Jeannette Lagasse’s obituary. Duby used the names in the write-up to track down an uncle on Facebook. From there, she found Russell. They connected on Memorial Day.
Duby drove with her boyfriend and three children from Millinocket on Friday to meet her family. Some questions, Duby said, she knows only her mother would have been able to answer.
“I knew I had to find them,” she said. “I’m really excited. I’m happy with what I have and with what I’ve found now.”
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