After 50 years, a daughter found her birth mom — who starred on her favorite show

A genetic test finally led Lisa Wright to her birth mother. To Wright's surprise, she was someone she watched on TV growing up.


Lisa Wright never expected to meet the woman who gave birth to her, but a genetic test helped reunite the two after more than 50 years apart in an incredible story fit for Hollywood.

Wright told TODAY's Sheinelle Jones that she had always known that she was adopted but had never looked for her biological mother, who gave birth to her at 18 years old, nor her relatives.

Lisa Wright as a baby with her adoptive mother. Courtesy of Lisa Wright

"My (adoptive) mom told me, 'Your mommy loved you, but she was really young, and she knew she couldn't take care of you. I wanted the baby so bad, and that's why your mom let me take care of you. You weren't abandoned. This was just the best thing for you,'" Wright recalled.

Wright's adoption was a closed one, which means that the records were sealed. Wright's adoptive family and her birth parents did not know each other.

Wright grew up and had a child of her own. When she was 54, her son suggested that she take a DNA test to find out her genetic heritage. When she got the results back, she was given a family match.

"I get an alert, and it says, 'This person is your uncle,'" Wright said. "So I just reached out and said, 'If you're open to it, I would love to chat with you to see what all of this means.'"

Wright had a happy life with her adoptive family and eventually had a son, who encouraged her to take a genetic DNA test. Courtesy of Lisa Wright

Days later, Wright and her uncle spoke on the phone, and the conversation went better than she ever could've guessed.

"My heart's turning flips, and he goes, 'Tell me about yourself,'" Wright recalled. "So I said, 'Well, I was born on Dec. 10, 1964. I was told that my biological mom was very young when she had me. She moved to L.A. because she wanted to be in Hollywood.' And then he just stopped me right there.

"So then I'm thinking, 'OK, here it comes. He's going to say don't ever call me again.' And so he goes, 'Lisa, you're my niece. We've been looking for you. We've all been looking for you.'"

The surprises didn't stop there: He said that Wright's birth mother lived in Los Angeles, the same city where Wright herself lived. Wright searched her mother's name online and found a photo of her.

"I just could not believe it," Wright told Sheinelle. "For the first time ever, other than looking at my son, for the first time I'm looking at somebody who looks like me."

Minutes later, Wright's phone rang again.

"A voice on the other end says, 'Is this my daughter?' And then I just went, 'Oh, my God, is this my mother?'" Wright said. "And then she goes, 'Yes, sweetie, this is your mom.' It was just the most indescribable feeling."

Wright and her mother, actor Lynne Moody, didn't waste any time making plans: They decided to meet the very next day.

Moody said that she never had any other children and had always dreamed of reuniting with her daughter but never expected it would happen. Wright's adoptive parents passed away before they could see the pair find each other.

A reunion more than 50 years in the making: Wright pictured with her birth mother, Lynne Moody. Courtesy of Lisa Wright

"When she was born, they covered my face, my eyes, so that I couldn't see her," Moody said. "But I could hear her cry. All I could say was 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, baby, I'm sorry.' As a mother, you never, ever, ever forget. During those 50 years, all I did was try to learn how to live with it. I didn't know if she was hungry, if she was alive, if she was happy, if she was adopted."

Connecting with Wright was indeed an emotional experience for Moody, and some of those feelings meant working through some deep-seated pain, she said.

"When I found out that she was my daughter, at that moment, it was like I was giving birth," Moody shared. "Because I lost my legs, I was on the floor in a fetal position, screaming and crying. I didn't know how deep that hole was."

Moody, left, with her co-star Theresa Merritt on the TV series "That's My Mama" in 1974. The show was a childhood favorite of Wright's. Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

As for Wright, she also learned something incredible about her mother: Moody starred on one of her favorite TV shows from childhood, "That's My Mama," a sitcom that ran on ABC in the mid-1970s.

"I grew up watching my mother on TV and didn't even know it," Wright said. "'That's My Mama' — that was our must-see TV. We all sat down and watched 'That's My Mama' every week, and who knew? No idea. ... And that's my mama!"

Moody said that she hopes her family's story inspires others this Mother's Day.

"Life is full of surprises sometimes, so hang in there no matter what your circumstances are," Moody said. "Be open to miracles, be open to surprises, and keep the faith."