Barbara Smith and Barbara Ratner

Barbara Smith and Barbara Ratner

Real Name: Victoria Bumgarner
Case: Lost Mother
Location: California
Date: 1940


Details: Barbara Smith Reed was born in July of 1940 and grew up in Los Angeles, California, in the 1940s. When she was five, one of her classmates said that she was adopted. Her parents had told her that she was adopted, but it wasn't until her classmate ridiculed her that she decided she wanted to meet her mother. One day, her parents had Dr. Sultan, the man who allegedly delivered her, come visit her. He said that her real father had died in World War Two, and that her mother had died while giving birth to her. However, Barbara was certain that her birth parents were still alive. Finally, when Barbara was a teenager, her father gave her the adoption papers. She learned that her mother's name was Victoria Bumgarner; she found no indication that her mother had died in childbirth.
In 1957, Barbara met Steve Reed; they fell in love and soon became engaged. One day, Steve and Barbara visited a friend named Hy Ratner. She was stunned by a picture of Hy's sister Barbara and felt that she looked very similar to her. Barbara Smith and Barbara Ratner met and soon became best friends. They also married two men who were best friends. Barbara Smith was told that Barbara Ratner was adopted, but Barbara Ratner did not know this.
In 1966, Barbara Ratner's mother passed away; while searching through papers, she was shocked to find that she was adopted. She was even more shocked to find that her birth mother's last name was also Bumgarner. Barbara Ratner immediately called Barbara Smith and told her that they were actually sisters. The two were overjoyed; in 1969, they confronted Dr. Sultan, who told them very little about their birth mother. When he died in 1989, he had all of his records destroyed. The women learned that their mother was close to Dr. Sultan, so he protected her identity.
The women then contacted the Children's Home Society of California; they learned about how their twenty-three-year-old mother Victoria Bumgarner came to Los Angeles to visit Dr. Maurice Sultan who arranged Barbara Smith's adoption. Fifteen months later, she returned and Dr. Sultan arranged Barbara Ratner's adoption. The two grew up just five miles apart, both named Barbara Ann.
Now, Barbara Smith and Barbara Ratner are looking for their birth mother, Victoria Bumgarner.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the November 27, 1991 episode.
Results: Solved. Several viewers led Barbara Smith and Barbara Ratner to their birth mother Victoria; they have since been reunited with her. However, because their mother had not told anyone about having had two children while unmarried, Unsolved Mysteries was not allowed to videotape their reunion. The two sisters, however, thanked the viewers for allowing them to finally meet their mother. Sadly, Barbara Smith Reed died on December 28, 2013.

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