BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — She was raised by a Buffalo Bills “Wall of Famer” and his wife, but Friday she got to meet her birth mother for the first time.
Linda Saimes-Restrepo flew in from Chicago to meet her 70-year-old birth mother she never knew. “When you’re adopted, you have a whole and you’re missing something, and my whole life I knew nothing about her except that she was young.”
The mother, Madeline Michel was only 17 when she gave birth and placed a lender for private adoption in the summer of 1969.
“So it was a painful experience. It was very painful to give her away. There’s nothing I could’ve given her nothing except love which I always had for her,” said Michel.
Three days after she was born, Linda was adopted by former Buffalo Bills safety George Saimes. In fact, on the day his name was put on the Bills wall of fame. Linda was there behind her adoptive father in the stadium.
“Also the whole weekend thinking could my mom be in the next room? Could she be at the Bills game? When we were there. I knew nothing. And it just never goes away until you find that missing piece. I found the missing piece and if I can help someone else find it because of this new law that went into effect in 2020 because we didn’t know about it,” said Saimes-Restrepo.
New York State now allows adoptees to get a copy of their original birth certificates.
“It’s a shame that they kept those records sealed for all the years that they did,” added Michel.
Madeline Michel, the mother was raised on Lombard Street and still runs the family’s bar Dick’s East Side Inn, right behind the Broadway Market.
Madeline never had any other children and when she met her only child for the first time in 50 years, there was obvious instant chemistry. Soon, she’ll even meet the grandchildren she never knew.
“I’m 70 now. It’s pretty late in life to start hanging around with my daughter going to bars you know,” said Michel. Saimes-Restrepo responded, “You have to get used to it. We’re gonna celebrate today. Because you’re never gonna be outside of my life again.”
“It’s the best day of my life. I never thought I’d see her ever again,” added Michel.
George Richert is an award-winning reporter who first joined the News 4 team in 1998, later returning in 2018. See more of his work here.