The Reunion

April 19, 2014 – The day before Easter

I got up early that day. I barely slept at all the night before. I went to my mom’s house early to pick up some pictures for a scrapbook I was preparing for my birth mother. I didn’t get to talk to her much. My voice was gone by that point. As I was leaving, she gave me a hug and a message to pass along to my birth mother.

As soon as I got back home, I finished the scrapbook, got it wrapped, and got everyone ready and out the door by noon.

On our way there, I was constantly texting back and forth with my big sister, Lori. The closer we got, the more anxious I became. By the time we got to Canton (about 30 minutes away) my stomach was in knots. I was bent over the dashboard with my face in front of the air vent chanting, “Don’t puke. Don’t puke. Don’t puke.”

Even in the best circumstances, reunions don’t always go well. According to one study, about 80% of adoptees do not feel a connection with their birth family, even after reunion. And most do not continue a relationship after the initial meeting. That’s not at all what I wanted.

Of course, in my head, I was expecting the worst. I mean, we had chatted on Facebook, but that’s not the same as meeting someone in person. What if we didn’t bond right away? What if I didn’t feel a connection? I couldn’t even TALK! What if we just sat there staring at each other? We were all strangers, after all. I shared my fears with my husband, and he assured me everything would be ok. “Just breathe,” he said. I tried.

We turned onto their street and slowed down. As soon as we got to the driveway, I saw my sister-in-law, my littlest nephews, and my niece. I recognized them instantly from Facebook. Plus, they were holding a sign that said “Welcome Jessica!” It was hard to miss.

We pulled into the long driveway and stopped about halfway. I got out of the car and hugged the welcoming committee. Already, I was full of emotion. My sister-in-law Jamie told me the rest of the family was waiting for me at the house at the top of the driveway. I hopped back into the car and we continued driving.

Lori was the first one I saw. All those fears I had melted away in an instant.

Before my husband could even stop the car, I opened the door and jumped out. I grabbed my sister and held her tight. I cannot describe what I felt. There was definitely a connection, like I had known her my whole life. I didn’t want to let her go. I don’t even remember if I said anything to her. All I remember is that feeling – I found a piece of my heart.

Next I got to hug my brothers. I remember hugging my big brother and crying, “I always wanted a brother!” I don’t remember much else about that meeting. I was in a daze, shaking like crazy. I just had to sit down.

Lori explained that mom was waiting at her house. She wanted me to meet everyone else first and then have me all to herself for a while.

So we went inside Lori’s house and I showed everyone the scrapbook. The first page featured some baby pictures – one when my parents brought me home, and one from my first day at church – and my name, Jessica Ann. As soon as Lori saw my name, she started crying. I asked what was wrong and Jamie said, “Ann is Mom and Lori’s middle name, too.” And then more tears came. My parents named me after my grandmother, whose middle name is also Ann. I was so proud to have that connection with both my adoptive and birth family.

As I was crying, my sweet five year old touched my shoulder and said, “Mommy, are you ok?” I told her my tears were happy tears. “Mommy has so much happiness inside her, it’s spilling out!”

After a little while, I told Lori I was ready to meet mom. I was still shaking, still in a daze, but I just couldn’t wait any longer.

Matthew, my little brother (I still can’t get over it – I have TWO brothers!!) and Lori walked with me to our mom’s house. Matthew was ahead of us, and Lori was walking with me, holding my hand the whole way.

We came up to the house and went around the side to the garage. Once we got inside the garage, Matthew turned and smiled at me. My first thought was “Why aren’t we going inside?” And then I realized she was there. In the garage. I turned and saw her sitting in a chair. My heart leapt.

My mom.

First Hug

We grabbed each other and hugged and sobbed. I couldn’t believe it. I was holding her in my arms, and I still couldn’t believe it. I said “I have to look at you.” And she said, “Me too.” I stood there and looked at her face… and saw MY face. My heart was whole.

I’m going to try to describe what I felt because I want all of you to experience it with me, even just a little. Those of you who are parents, you know that feeling when you first see your child’s face? Well, this was like that, only 100 times better.

It was literally the best moment of my life.

We eventually sat down and I showed her my scrapbook. She was thrilled to have it. Later we went inside and talked. That conversation I will always hold dear to my heart, and most of it will remain between the two of us. However, I will say that she answered ALL of my questions, and I have no more doubts. I know that she was meant to be my birth mother. I know that my parents were meant to be the ones to raise me. I know that both my birth parents made the right decision. And I love them all more now than I ever have before.

After about an hour or so (it seemed like only a few minutes), we joined the rest of the family at the pond. It’s funny now, thinking back, how scared I was. We all had a blast together. Even the cousins bonded instantly. We didn’t want to leave. In fact, we stayed for dinner and late into the night. When we finally did leave, as we were driving away, it felt like I was leaving a part of my heart behind. But I know I will be back. As often as possible.



The Search, Part 2 (2014)

pr 11, 2014

After my long break, I have finally decided to start searching again. Last month, I received a call from the county that my adoption records have FINALLY been found!!! I’m ready for some answers! This coming Monday is the Big Day! As you can imagine, I am incredibly nervous. I have no idea how much and what kind of information I will be given.


Apr 14, 2014

This morning, my sister-in-law and sweet niece came over to play with the kiddos while I was gone. And a dear friend came by to drive me to the juvenile justice center, where the adoption records are kept. After a few more questions and LOTS of digging, the clerk finally found my file. It was much smaller than I expected, and it didn’t have a lot of new information. However, it did have something I’ve been wanting my whole life – my first parents’ names. Some of the information doesn’t look accurate, especially the birthdates. The date listed for my mother does not match the one on the hospital records, and the birth year listed for my father is definitely wrong. (Unless he really was born the same year I was. That certainly would be newsworthy.) It makes me wonder about the accuracy of the rest of the information.

Right before I left, the clerk asked me if I received my original birth certificate yet. I have requested it twice already. The first time, I got a big fat NO. The second time was in October 2013, and I still have not heard anything back. When I told her this, she just gave me a knowing smile, nodded her head, and said she wasn’t surprised. I guess I might have to give up on that one.

I made up a new Facebook poster with the updated information. Hopefully I hear something soon.


Apr 17, 2014

I found my biological father! Well, I found the man who signed away his parental rights so I could be adopted. I can’t be 100% sure he’s my biological father until we get the DNA test results back. I’m really hoping he is though. It would be a dream come true for me.


Apr 22, 2014

As I was just about to lay down for a nap, my phone rang.

It was one of the volunteers who had been helping me with my search. I could hear the excitement in her voice as she practically shouted at me, “Jess, I’ve been talking to your sister, Lori! She wants to meet you! We found them! We found your birth family!”

I can’t remember the rest of the conversation. I’m pretty sure I made her repeat herself several times, and I might have mumbled a few non-words. Eventually, it sunk in. We found my birth mother. And all my siblings! Unfortunately, I had laryngitis, so I couldn’t talk long. After I hung up, I immediately got on Facebook. My sister had already sent me a message.

As soon as I saw her picture, I knew she had to be my sister. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know what to say. Honestly, I just wanted to reach through the iPad and hug her. I asked her about our family, and we started chatting. I also got to talk with my sister-in-law Jamie. I found out I have a big sister, big brother, sister-in-law, little brother, five nephews, and a niece! So incredible. I couldn’t stop looking at pictures, reading comments, messages, and posts. So many new family members!

I can’t believe how lucky I was all over again – I found out my birth mother has always loved me & thought about me, that my siblings are all together, they all knew about me, they all care about me & want to meet me, and all live relatively close to me… It’s more than I ever dared hope for. It feels like a dream!

I was so excited to meet them all, I couldn’t wait. Eventually we decided Saturday, April 19 would be the day. It couldn’t come soon enough.


UPDATE: May 2014

After finding out the man named on my birth certificate is, in fact, NOT my biological father, it seems my search has his a road block. My mother has no further information to give me. I am not ready to give up my search, but I have no idea how to continue. The journey isn’t over, but for now it seems it’s on hold.

The Search, Part 1 (2013)

The search for my biological parents began February 21, 2013. About a week later, there was such a huge response and I received so many messages, I decided the best way to keep up with everyone was to begin a blog.  I posted many lengthy updates over the next year. When I decided I wanted to start my blog again, it seemed like a good idea to condense all those posts into one. Please enjoy…

March 1, 2013

I have over 3,000 shares on my Facebook post from places as far away as Australia. I have received countless messages of support, encouragement, and advice. Although I’ve received many offers from those wishing to help in my search, I have no real leads yet.

I have contacted the adoption agency and signed a release so if my parents come looking for me, they will be allowed to see my information.


March 6, 2013

A wonderful, selfless volunteer has been tirelessly searching through records, phone books, newspapers, etc. I emailed her a copy of my paperwork, and she noticed a detail I had previously missed – my first mother’s birthdate – August of 1956 (the day was blacked out). Realizing she would have been 24 years old when I was born and not 23 like I originally thought, I updated the caption of my picture.

Another Facebook friend, Dana Goolsby, wrote an article about my search for her online magazine called My East Texas ( She linked back to my blog and included my email and the note to my birth mother. I am so grateful for the extra exposure and her kind words!

And the most exciting update – A reporter with CBS in Tyler saw my poster being passed around Facebook and contacted me. He wants to do an interview in Tyler this Friday morning! I’m terrified, but I need as much exposure as possible, and I could reach so many people this way! Someone out there must know something.


Mar 9, 2013

Yesterday was my interview with Anthony Austin at CBS 19 in Tyler. We arrived at the news station and met Anthony. I had been too nervous to talk to him on the phone (And yet, I agreed to talk to him on TV!? I know, I’m a complicated individual), so this was my first time talking to him. He was so warm and kind, he made me feel very comfortable. In fact, everyone we met at the station was friendly! I got a mic (so cool) and then we sat down for the interview. I was nervous at first, but I think it went well. They did a wonderful job editing the video and I love the way it turned out. I am so grateful to Anthony and everyone else at CBS 19 who worked to get my story out there. Thank you so much for your help!

For anyone who missed it, here are the videos:


Mar 31, 2013

Feeling discouraged. Unfortunately, my TV appearance led to no new leads or information. However, I have been made aware of the process needed to get my original birth certificate! Overall, it will take about six weeks or so to get the information.


Apr 12, 2013

Still no new leads, still waiting on information, still very discouraged. Meanwhile, I confided in a friend who suggested contacting another more popular news station in Tyler, KLTV 7. I just got a response from a reporter yesterday, and she wants to do an interview on Monday! This station reaches more people than the previous one, so hopefully it will be more successful.


Apr 29, 2013

I was not prepared for how emotional this search would be. This whole process is really taking a toll on my health and my family. I need to take a break from everything.

About a month ago, I sent out a request to the adoption agency for my records. That should arrive in the mail any day now. It will be non-identifying information ONLY, but it should still contain more clues than I have now. (Update 3/5/2017 – I never received this information, even after paying the agency $$$ for its release.)

Also, it turns out, get my original birth certificate is NOT as easy and simple as I was led to believe. First, I had to send a letter to find the identity of the court. It took two weeks to receive a response basically telling me, “Call this number for detailed instructions.” My husband called, only to find out I have to actually show up to court in person! The court will (hopefully) give me an order directing the Department of State Health Services to open the file. Then I will have to mail a certified copy of the order, and THEN they will open my records and mail them to me. The good news is, I know what to do now. The bad news is, it’s not happening any time soon. So I’m filing the letter away, and the information will be on the back burner for now.

(To Be Continued…)

FAQ (Searching for Family)

Thank you to everyone who has written me! I’m sorry I cannot respond to each of you individually. It’s been difficult for me to keep up with all of the comments, Facebook messages, and emails I receive. (I think that’s pretty awesome, by the way. I LOVE the support! You will never know how much it means to me.)

I have been getting lots of the same questions/comments lately, so I decided to address them here. I’ll try to keep the answers short, sweet, and easy to read, but it will be difficult because I love to talk (uh… type).

1. “Can you help me find my family?”
I wish I could. I am no expert. I am relying on volunteers and Facebook shares to help me. You can also look into online registries (many are free), and there are also lots of Facebook groups dedicated to helping adoptees find their families. If you want, you can email me a picture and your information and I will gladly post about your search on my blog!

2. “Why don’t you just get your original birth certificate?”
It’s not that simple. I need to petition the court first, and then it will take about six weeks before I will receive it. I have sent a request to find out which court handled my adoption, and as of this date, I’m still waiting on a response. Of course, even if I do receive my original birth certificate, my search will not be over.

3. “Have you registered at…?”
Yep. I have signed up with pretty much every online registry out there. At least, the free ones. And I signed up on the Texas Voluntary Adoption Registry. Unfortunately, my birth family has to register, too, in order for them to work.

4. “Why don’t you hire a lawyer/private investigator/try Omnitrace, etc.?”
I have many volunteers working to help me. I have no intention of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars trying to track someone down who might not even want to be found.

5. “Have you tried Troy the Locator?”
This one has earned its own separate answer because I get asked this so often. I signed up with his registry and searched his website, but like I stated above, I’m not interested in paying anyone to find my family.

6. “Do you have any names?”
Not at the moment. I don’t know my parents’ names or my siblings’ names, first OR last. I don’t even know for sure how many siblings I have or whether they are brothers and/or sisters. (“Jessica Hernandez” is my adoptive name, not my original name.)

7. “Why don’t you just ask your adoptive parents?”
They have already given me all the information that they have.

8. “Doesn’t your adoption agency have all this information?”
I’m sure they do, but since mine is a “closed” adoption, all they can give me is the non-identifying information.

9. “Can the agency find your birth parents for you?”
Yes, for $150 per person. I did sign up with their registry though, so if my birth parents contact them looking for me, they will release my information.

10. “What if they don’t want to be found?”
Then they won’t contact me. And if I find them, I’m sure they will let me know that they don’t want contact. This is not a reason to stop searching for who I am and where I come from.

11. “You should just be grateful you are adopted.”
Or “You’re REAL family is the one who raised you.”
Or even “Why do you care about your [first] mother when she threw you away like garbage?”
Yes, I’ve literally been called “garbage.”
Comments like these are unhelpful & unnecessary. Do not assume you know me, my feelings toward my adoption, or my relationship with my adoptive parents, even if you read my blog. It’s important to know that even though there are happy adoption stories out there, many adoptees did not grow up in happy homes. So don’t assume you know someone’s family better than they do.

Thankfully, for the most part, everyone has been extremely kind. I have had so many amazing messages of support, encouragement, and LOTS of advice I can actually use! In fact, I would not be where I am now in my search without the volunteers who are helping me. I am extremely grateful for all of you!

Anyway, that’s it for now. If you have a question that isn’t listed here, let me know and I’ll try to answer as best I can.

A Letter to my First Mother

EDIT: This letter was written when I was still under the belief that I would probably never find my biological mother, or that if I did, she would not want contact with me. I was finally able to meet my mother on April 19, 2014 and she has since answered many of my questions.

Dear Mother,

I realize that you may not want to be found, and you may not want any contact with me. If that is the case, I want you to know that I understand and respect your decision. However, I have many questions that I would like to ask you. If this reaches you, and you do not want contact, I would appreciate an anonymous response to this letter. You can send it to the adoption agency, and they will make sure it gets to me. If I do receive a response, I promise to discontinue my search.

1. What is my medical history?
Does cancer run in the family? What kind? What about heart disease? Any other diseases or disorders I should know about? Any specific preventative measures I should be taking?

2. Who am I?
What is my heritage? According to some paperwork I have, you are part Indian and Irish. Does “Indian” mean Native American? If so, what tribe? What part of Ireland are my ancestors from? When did they come to America? Can you tell me anything about my birth father’s background?

3. Why did you put me up for adoption?
Were you coerced into giving me up? Could you not afford to keep me? Did you think you wouldn’t be a good mother? Did you not love me enough to try to make it work? I know that you had two previous births before mine. Were you already overwhelmed with the first two? If you kept them, why not me? This leads me to my next question…

4. What can you tell me about my siblings?
Do we share the same father? Do I have a brother? I’ve always wanted a brother. Do I have any younger siblings as well? Do they know about me? Did you give them up for adoption, too?

5. What would you have named me?
I know this may be a silly question, but I’ve always wondered what my name would have been. I don’t really feel like a “Jessica.” I understand why my adoptive parents gave me my name, and I love the story behind it. But it seems so plain, and I am not a plain person!

6. Do you ever think about me?
I think about you often, and I wonder if you ever think about me, too. Are you proud of me? Did you see the pictures of my children? You have some amazing beautiful grandbabies. I think you would be proud of them.

7. Who do I look like?
I assume I look like you because we have similar features, according to the paperwork I received. But I want to know, where did I get my nose, my squinty eyes, my soft voice? One of my daughters has blue eyes. Who in my family has blue eyes? Does she get them from my birth father?

Last, but not least, I want to say thank you for giving me this life. It is crazy, but beautiful and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Love always,
Your Daughter