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vTHE JOURNEY continued from page 11 newborn baby laid in your arms for the very first time! Having the opportunity to meet a daughter, her husband and two granddaughters is such a gift!” Theresa recalled, “When the doorbell rang, I ran to the door and immediately opened it. I took one look at Jan, this beautiful woman who gave birth to me, who gave me the opportunity to have the best possible life, and I hugged her and cried. Denny filmed our reunion with his super spy video camera glasses, and my husband filmed it with his iPhone. We all spent hours talking, sharing stories, and sporadically crying and laughing. It was an amazing reunion.” Jan and Denny spent the weekend getting to know Theresa’s family. Jane flew out to meet Kelly just over a month after their first phone call. Kelly was anxiously waiting at the airport for Jane’s delayed flight, so excited she couldn’t sit still. When Jane got off the plane, she couldn’t miss Kelly. Kelly was holding a sign that said, “Are you my Jane?” On the other side it said, “This one’s for you, Merlyn.” “I held her and cried and we stepped back and I hugged her again. A 42-year-old dream and prayer had been answered,” explained Jane. The first night they turned in early but they spent the next few days together having a great time. “We haven’t stopped talking since - I think that is genetic!” “It was unbelievable, and a very peaceful feeling when we hugged for the first time,” Kelly explained. “It felt so comfortable, like I had been in your arms all the time,” she told Jane during our phone interview. “I can’t put into words what it felt like to hold her,” Jane said. Growing Closer Each relationship has grown closer as they continue to talk regularly and have visited each other a few times and have met more family members. “We’re all family,” explained Jane. “Kelly’s parents, Tom & Ginny, will always be Mom and Dad. That is a title they deserve for raising such a wonderful caring, loving, successful daughter for me.” “I feel very fortunate that not only does Theresa’s and my relationship continue to deepen, but so has the relationship within all 17 of our immediate family,” stated Jan. “It’s also very important to acknowledge and respect each other’s differences. Like any relationship in life, it takes work and it is a commitment.” “It has been so fulfilling to get to know Jan, to have all of my questions answered so honestly, and to continue to develop our relationship. It has been equally amazing to get to know her wonderful husband, Denny, my three beautiful sisters, and their spouses and children. I feel like they have adopted us into their family, and we have adopted them. This has been the journey of a lifetime, and I feel incredibly fortunate that the road shows no sign of ending,” added Theresa. Aside from some common physical features, each mother and daughter pair was surprised to notice the similar traits that they shared. Theresa shares a love of traveling with Jan and similar phrases are discovered when they visit. Kelly finally found where her distinct voice, love of animals, travel and Africa came from, all revealed the very first day that she talked to Jane. In Your Search They all had some advice if you are interested in the process of looking for a loved one. This is a process of time, energy and mixed emotions and it doesn’t always turn out with a happy ending like it did for these women. It really is a small miracle how these women connected and how their entire families have been so accepting because it doesn’t always end this way. If you are going to try to find someone, be sure you are doing it because you want to, because there are times you may doubt yourself and be prepared for anything. You cannot force a relationship, it will happen when the time is right. Surround yourself with a strong support structure. Search for websites assisting with this process and register on a few of them, but be extremely cautious as there are unfortunately people out there who just want to take your money. There are many others, though who really have a passion for helping lost family connect. Every emotion during this process is justified, but as Theresa kept in mind during the search, “It was always helpful to remind myself that my birth mother valued my life and loved me enough to want to give me a better one.” A Collection of Families Jan spoke to Theresa’s adoptive parents. “Theresa’s parents were there for her and for me at a time in our lives when we needed them the most! I will forever be grateful for the love, protection, security, and values they have given to Theresa. I can only hope every adoptive parent will understand we are not re-entering our biological child’s life to disrupt the relationship you have developed. We just want to celebrate alongside of you the wonderful person who is part of all of us!” Jane feels the very same way, explaining, “I feel very blessed to have Kelly in my life and she will be with me forever. She has now met my entire family and they all love her too. I am also blessed that Kelly’s parents have been so giving in sharing Kelly’s life with me. Her Dad wrote me the most beautiful letter after we found each other and he said, ‘Thank you Jane, for November 22, 1972 and November 22, 2014 and for all the days and special moments between, since, and into the future.’ Her Mom came to visit for a day and brought all of Kelly’s school pictures, dance and sports pictures, holiday pictures. Which was proof in my heart that I did the right thing in sharing the love and beauty of ‘our daughter’ so many years ago.” Kelly and Theresa are extremely grateful for their newfound relationships and look forward to the years ahead. Theresa explained, “It’s funny, because I don’t know who wants more parents, but I absolutely do love it. I’ve never been much of a collector of anything but now I collect families.” vBy Julie Eickhoff HERVOICEvMAY/JUNE 2017v15

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