My story started on December 23, 1995 when my mother passed away from cancer. I was 20 years old and had so much growing up to do. Just a few short months later, I realized I was pregnant. Me and the baby’s father were going to make it work, but when I was six months pregnant, I knew we were not going to be together anymore and I was not ready to be a mother. I was still grieving the loss of my mother just nine months prior.
Growing up Catholic, the priest of my church was a very dear friend of my parents. I went to see him, so confused about what I should do. He knew exactly what I should do. There was a family in our church that was not able to have children and had already adopted a little boy a few years earlier. After meeting the parents, Rob and Jan, I knew they were the family for my daughter. I developed an unbelievable bond with this family.
On December 20, 1996, almost one year after my mother’s passing, Charlotte was born. Rob and Jan were in the delivery room with me to welcome their daughter into the world. They named her Charlotte Eileen (her middle name is my first name) and again it was more confirmation that I made the right decision. I was able to see her as often as I wanted, but when she was six months old, they moved to California. I received pictures, letters, and phone calls and was able to keep my relationship going with her parents.
He has given both me and my family restoration and reconciliation that I couldn’t have orchestrated myself.
When I first met my husband Joe, I made him promise me that if something were to ever happen to me that he would welcome Charlotte into our family’s lives, to which he said of course he would. Fast forward a few years, Charlotte found me on my company website and emailed me. She began the relationship between the two of us. One of the first things she wanted to know was if Joe knew about her and if our children knew about her. I was honest with her and told her that Joe definitely knew; however, our children who were 6 and 2 at the time did not, BUT I would tell them about her when Joe and I felt it was appropriate.
They then moved to Pennsylvania where her parents are from, and she begged them to take her to Amarillo to meet me and see where she was born and where I grew up. They kept telling her when she graduates high school they would definitely do that, but no guarantee that I would want to go. Well, she is 16 and she just couldn’t wait two more years. So for her sweet 16th birthday, her mom and dad paid for them to go to Amarillo. Rob called me right after Christmas in 2012 and asked if I would be interested in either them coming to Katy or meeting them in Amarillo. We decided that I would go to Amarillo to meet them and then Joe and the kids would meet us in the Dallas area at a water park. Then it hit me: I HAD TO TELL MY KIDS. I was so scared that they wouldn’t see me as the super mom they do now because of the decision I had made. Joe and I sat them down at the dinner table and I just told them. It was amazing!!
My daughter thought it was cool that she had an older sister that looked just like her, and my son started going around telling all his friends about his 16-year-old half-sister. It was such an amazing experience for me because God was in SO much control!!!
So, the day came for us to meet in person. As I was packing to fly out the next day, my phone rang. It was Rob. He made the connection that they were actually flying to Houston, connecting in Dallas, and then flying in to Amarillo. My flight left Hobby, connected in Dallas, and then went in to Amarillo! My idea of meeting them in Amarillo at a restaurant was being blown to pieces. We were going to meet in the airport!
When I saw them walking down the hallway, I had so much emotion flying through me. Thankfully, through Facebook and Instagram, I knew every piece of her. I noticed she walks like me, she dresses like me . . . there is such a resemblance in more than just our looks. I hugged her mom, Jan, first, then her dad, Rob, who was sobbing, and then her. It was very awkward at first. On the flight to Dallas, she sat next to her mom with me on the other side of the aisle and then on the flight to Dallas from Amarillo, she sat next to me.
I had so much in common with her – it was easy conversation. My dad and stepmom picked me up at the airport and were able to meet her there as well. It was awesome to see my dad hug his first grandchild for the first time. He is a driver’s ed teacher in Amarillo and she was having a hard time learning how to parallel park so that was his way “in” and they hit it off immediately!
We all met for dinner that night, including my sister and brother-in-law. It was awesome – they fit in with my family so well that no one would have known any different. We took a few days and showed them around Amarillo. My sister and I drove to Dallas to meet up with Joe and my kids. All afternoon, my daughter kept asking when Charlotte was going to get there – they were so excited.
Once Charlotte, Rob, and Jan showed up, it was very weird. My nerves were out of control. It was late at night, so they said their hellos and then I took my kids to the hotel room for them to get some rest. Early the next morning, Charlotte was knocking on our door. Her and the kids hit it off like they had been BFFs forever! They slid on water slides, swam in the lazy river, got in the wave pool, and just had a great time!
It was then time for Rob, Jan, and Charlotte to fly back to Pennsylvania. We walked them out to the car and said our goodbyes. My husband, daughter, son, and sister were sad, and we hugged and kissed and said it wouldn’t be the last time. As they were pulling away, Joe held my hand and said that he felt like a piece of his heart was now missing! How amazing is our God that he not only placed my daughter with a loving home, but also gave me a husband that could fall in love with the daughter that I hadn’t met, talked to, or had any contact with in 16 years?
Fast forward a few months after our reunion, and my kids are still asking about her. They want to know when they can see her next, and my daughter wants to talk to her. Charlotte has posted pictures on Instagram of her and my daughter playing soccer, leaving messages about how much she loves her, misses her, and considers her a half-sister.
God has had His hand in my story from the day I found out my mother was sick just six short weeks before she died. He gave me a husband and two amazing kids who love their half-sister as much as they love each other and are very accepting of the decision I made at the young age of 21. He has given both me and my family restoration and reconciliation that I couldn’t have orchestrated myself.
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