Mother’s Lie Kept Daughter from her Father for 51 Years… But Now They’ve Found Each Other

In 2015, Mary Jane Millehan and Tom Peters got together in person for the first time since Millehan was an infant. Although her mother lied for years about the identity of Millehan's father, a DNA test determined it was Peters. (Photo: Family photo)
In 2015, Mary Jane Millehan and Tom Peters got together in person for the first time since Millehan was an infant. Although her mother lied for years about the identity of Millehan’s father, a DNA test determined it was Peters. (Photo: Family photo)

lie, it was famously said, gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

The deception in this story spanned half a century, and it kept Mary Jane Millehan from her real father, Tom Peters, from infancy until she was 51 years old.

Well, the truth finally caught up, and this daughter and father have found one another and begun the loving relationship they missed out on all those years.

“My whole past has been a lie, ever since I was born. There are times when I’m still really mad at her. I can’t help it,” Millehan said.

She’s talking about her mother, who was born Carlotta Pucci and died Carlotta Hebblethwaite. In between, she was Carlotta Peters, married in 1960 to Tom Peters, a young fellow she met while both were students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Hebblethwaite, raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and known to friends as Lotty, got pregnant in spring 1963. What she didn’t reveal to Peters was that she was falling in love with another man.

He learned the painful truth when he came home from work to their apartment, at that time near Rockford, Illinois, and found his wife and her boss at work and lover, John Hebblethwaite, moving her stuff out. The baby, Mary Jane, was just 10 days old and her mother whisked her away to a new place in Madison.

“I mean, that would have been an Amber Alert now,” said Millehan, who today lives with her husband, Ron, in Roanoke, Virginia. She works in the insurance industry.

“I was so shocked, I don’t remember saying much,” recalled Peters, a retired salesman who turns 80 this month and lives in the Milwaukee suburb of Brookfield.

John Hebblethwaite had four kids in Madison and a wife he later left. Peters also worked at his food-service company for a while.

As part of the divorce process, Peters went in for a paternity test. His estranged wife never showed up and no results were obtained.

Over time, Peters was left with the impression that John Hebblethwaite was the child’s father, not him.

His ex-wife never asked for child support. She appeared to want a clean break, and Peters was swept completely from the girl’s life.

Peters married again in 1966 to a woman named Elaine. He adopted her daughter and the couple then adopted two babies in Texas where Peters worked for a while and two more children in Michigan where he transferred.

They returned to the Milwaukee area in 1984.

Meanwhile, John Hebblethwaite married Peters’ ex-wife when Millehan was 6, and his name was put on her birth certificate.

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SOURCE: Jim Stingl
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel