Updated: Aug 16, 2021
A couple of months ago, Josi, an adoptee from Illinois, set out to find her birth mother. Never in her wildest imaginings could she have predicted what the journey ahead would have in store.
Josi's birth mother (left) in a high school yearbook photo and a recent photo of Josi (right)
Josi, born Dawn Marie, was adopted at birth in Peoria, Illinois, in 1970. She enjoyed a happy childhood and was raised by a loving adopted family. But like so many adoptees we work with, it wasn't until Josi's adopted mother recently passed, that Josi decided to finally dig in and search for her birth mother.
Now, two months to the day since she filled out our form, Josi and her birth mother have been reunited—and it is nothing short of a fairytale.
When she first contacted us, Josi had just received her original birth certificate from the State of Illinois. For the first time in her life, she was holding a piece of paper and staring down at the name of her birth mother: Donna.
In her words: "It was like I was so excited to know her name but at the same time I was thinking: 'Ok... What now?' I didn't even know where to begin to know what to do next or how to go about finding her."
Within the week, Josi had found BirthParentFinder.com and was working with us to find her birth mother.
And within just 48 hours of receiving her case, I knew I had found something huge: A woman with a perfect name match—first, middle, and last—and exact location match to the one listed as Josi's birth mother on her original birth certificate. Plus, some incredible high school yearbook photos:
The resemblance gave me chills. Josi agreed.
...But we couldn't get our hopes up just yet. I told her I would reach out to the woman I had found, and that in order to be 100% sure, she should go ahead and order a DNA test. So that even if we didn't hear back from Donna, we could at the very least use DNA to confirm that I had found the right person.
Next up: the wait.
The wait for answers, the wait for a reply, the wait for DNA results. In the grand scheme of things, six weeks amounts to the blink of an eye. But for an adoptee like Josi, it's the hardest part.
About 10 days ago, her AncestryDNA test results came in and after a couple more days working through the data, I was able to confirm that the woman I had found was in fact Josi's birth mother. But we had still not heard back from her by phone or by mail. So when I gave Josi the news, naturally she asked again: "What next?"
I explained that I would attempt to make contact again—but Josi had a thought. And it is one of the bravest most wonderful things I have ever seen a client do. She decided she wanted to reach out to her birth mother herself. Josi asked me for some tips on what to say and my advice to her was this: Speak from your heart. Don't try to script it or plan out the "perfect" words. The right words will come.
I prepared Josi for the possibility that she might not get the response she was hoping for, or any response at all.
She was ready.
This was all happening on a Friday—in fact, just this past Friday afternoon. Josi sent a message to her birth mother and incredibly, within the hour, she received a response back: Donna was absolutely ecstatic to hear from the daughter she had given up nearly 51 years ago.
They spoke on the phone for nearly two hours the next morning and it was as though they had never been apart all these years! Josi and Donna instantly clicked.
She called me that afternoon to tell me all about her talk with her mom.
"We were both crying and laughing together. [Donna] told me that the way she sees this is that she just gained a new best friend," Josi told me.
Josi (right) exchanging selfies with her birth mother, Donna (left)
"I can't believe how fast this has happened. I found my mom on a Friday afternoon and here I am speaking to her on Saturday morning!"
And if that wasn't sweet enough, Josi also told me she learned that for her whole life, she and Donna had never lived more than 50 miles apart from each other.
Josi also told me the unbelievable but true fact that both her adopted mother and her birth mother share the exact same birthday—AND that Josi was born on Donna's only sister's birthday. You really can't make it up!
The next day, I received this message from Josi, and it just made my heart so full for her:
"Oh my God, we just spent two hours on the phone laughing....talking...and I can’t even describe to you how fulfilled I am."
I can honestly say that this is one of the most magical parent-child reunion stories I have ever been fortunate enough to be a part of. And it doesn't end there: Josi and Donna are planning to meet this week at a park near their homes.
We'll post an update soon—stay tuned!