Sacramento woman finds Yemeni mom after 49 years

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Omassi said her daughter Sa'ada was 5 months old when she disappeared from a children's clinic in Rosh Ha'ayin in 1948. Since then, Omassi said she never abandoned her efforts to find her daughter.

"At night, I would dream about a sea of babies and looking for mine to appear," Omassi told reporters at the dramatic reunion. "I never stopped looking, for 50 years."

The reunion between Levine, her mother and other members of her biological family took place at the office of an Israeli lawyer who collected inquiries from Israeli families after the media published reports of Levine's search for her biological relatives.

Levine, an Israeli who was raised on a kibbutz, arrived in Israel a week ago when it appeared her search was nearing an end. "I feel like someone turned on all these lights in my heart," Levine said during the reunion.

"I know from experience [that] people like me, who don't know who their biological family is, even if they have other relationships, are walking around in shock for their entire lives."

Levine said she and her mother talked through their first night together until they fell asleep from exhaustion. "We woke up this morning, lying together," she told the Associated Press.

Levine explained that she could not find any documentation when she began looking for her biological parents.

She knew only that her adoptive parents, who did not have any other children, had told her they adopted her from a Haifa doctor.

Levine's efforts to locate her family were covered by the Israeli media and drew the attention of Yemenite families whose children disappeared in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

After dozens of the families underwent DNA testing, the genetics laboratory at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem linked Levine with Omassi.

The lab test report indicated that it was 99.99143 percent certain that Omassi was Levine's mother.

Between the embraces and tears, the two women searched each other for any physical resemblance to confirm what the blood tests had shown.

Levine said she hoped to bring her own children to meet Omassi.

The two said their next mission would be to determine how Levine was taken from the children's clinic and put up for adoption.

Members of Israel's Yemenite community have charged for years that hundreds of babies said to be dead had actually been given to adoptive parents of European descent.

Tales of missing children are so widespread in Israel's Yemenite community that two government commissions have investigated the allegations. The panels attributed the disappearances to the chaos of mass immigration in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

The commissions found no wrongdoing on the part of Israeli authorities or medical officials in the transit camps where the Yemenite immigrants were housed during those years.

The authorities in charge of the camps have stated that many of the children who arrived at the camps were sick and later died.

The commissions also concluded that cultural misunderstandings between the staff and the new immigrants could have contributed to numerous mix-ups.

Last week, Israeli investigators who opened four graves said to be those of Yemenite babies found three empty. Some bone remains were in the fourth. But the exhumations were not conclusive, according to a forensic examiner.

The Omassi-Levine reunion, and the fact that DNA tests have provided a firm basis for the claim that Yemenite babies labeled as missing or deceased in the 1940s and '50s were in fact put up for adoption, has reignited the hopes of elderly Yemenite women who say their babies were taken away from them while they were in camps for new immigrants. It is also likely to bring pressure for further government investigation into the disappearances.