Verda Byrd recently found out after about seven decades of living as a black woman that she was born to white parents.
Although some may view Byrd's situation as vaguely similar to that of Rachel Dolezal's recent outing as white by her parents after several years of her passing as black, Byrd is vehement that her case is not the same, KHOU reports.
"She lied about her race," Byrd said. "I didn't lie about my race because I didn't know."
Byrd was born in 1942 to a man and woman she described as white transients. Her biological father, Earl Beagle, walked out on his family. Then Daisy Beagle, her birth mother, had five children to feed as a single mom. After she fell 30 feet in a trolley accident, the state of Missouri took the children, considering the mother unable to care for them.
That's how little Jeanette Beagle came to be adopted by a well-off black family from Newton, Kan.: Ray and Edwinna Wagner changed the child's name to Verda, and she began her life as a black person, according to the news station. She was raised as a light-skinned black kid and the Wagners' only child, living in comfort on Ray's salary as a railroad porter.
"My adoptive mother, Edwinna Wagner, never told me that she had adopted a white baby," Byrd told the news station. "She took it to her grave that she had a white daughter."
Although Edwinna Wagner eventually revealed that Verda had been adopted, she did not share any other details.
But Byrd eventually stumbled upon information she found shocking—that her birth parents, Earl and Daisy Beagle, and her siblings were white. She had lived for nearly 70 years without being told about her true heritage.
Byrd does not feel any sadness or remorse at the discovery, though.
"Jeanette Beagle does not fit Verda Byrd," she said. "Jeanette Beagle does not have an education. Jeanette Beagle has no Social Security money because she does not work. She never went to kindergarten."
"I'm comfortable with being a black woman," added Byrd, who gained her current last name through marriage.
All told, Daisy Beagle ended up having 10 children and Byrd has recently been in contact with her siblings. According to Byrd, when she and her siblings meet, they don't discuss race.
Read more at KHOU.