Lufkin woman reunited with family after 30 years

Source: Claudia Leal
Source: Claudia Leal
Source: Claudia Leal
Source: Claudia Leal

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An East Texas woman saysshe was nine years old the last time she saw her others and sisters.

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

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

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

Claudia Leal moved to Lufkinwith her mom at the age of nine, seven years later her mom her mom returned toMexico leaving her behind.

"We stayed estrangedthis whole time until now," said Leal.

Leal says her sickgrandmother prompted her mom's return to Mexico.

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

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

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

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

And in September hersiblings finally found her, Leal says they messaged through facebook andeventually over the phone.

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

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

The 43-year-old saysseeing her four brothers and two sisters was an emotional experience but Lealsays after 34 years it felt like no time had passed and she was welcomed withopen arms.

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

Now that she hasreconnected with her family Leal says this an opportunity for her children toknow where they've come from.

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

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

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