Mom and Daughter Reunite After 51 Years

The family is having so much fun together that no one wants the visit to end.

Ashley Foster November 14, 2017
article image

A heartwarming scene took place last Thursday at Tampa International Airport. Elaine Hensel embraced her daughter for the first time ever. Her daughter, Rani Stiles-Brannon, was placed for adoption 51 years ago. The two have spent the last few days getting to know each other and bonding as a family.

In Michigan in 1965 Elaine found out she was pregnant. She was a senior in high school, and her mom convinced her that adoption was her only real option. Sadly she never even got to see Rani before she was taken away. Elaine kept dating Rani’s father. They later were married and had two more children. They always wondered about their first baby.

Rani had a good life with the family that raised her. It was only after the deaths of her adoptive parents that the desire to learn about her past manifested into action. “And questions start coming and the curiosity gets the best of you,” said Rani. She ordered an Ancestry DNA test, and the rest is history. When she got her results she immediately had a close family match to Elaine’s sister, Carolyn. She wrote a letter to her aunt expressing her wish to meet the family. Then they exchanged phone calls. Now that she has made the journey from Idaho, the family is having so much fun together that no one wants the visit to end.

Before starting a search for birth family, you should make sure you are emotionally prepared for all of the possible outcomes. DNA is becoming increasing popular among adoptees. This year Ancestry DNA exceeded 5 million members. If you need help searching using DNA you can post questions to DNA Newbie and Adoptee Central.

author image

Ashley Foster

Ashley Foster is a freelance writer. She is a wife and mother of two currently residing in Florida. She loves taking trips to the beach with her husband and sons. As an infant, she was placed with a couple in a closed adoption. Ashley was raised with two sisters who were also adopted. In 2016, she was reunited with her biological family. She advocates for adoptees' rights and DNA testing for those who are searching for family. Above all, she is thankful that she was given life. You can read her blog at

Want to contact an adoption professional?

Love this? Want more?

Claim Your FREE Adoption Summit Ticket!

The #1 adoption website is hosting the largest, FREE virtual adoption summit. Come listen to 50+ adoption experts share their knowledge and insights.

Members of the adoption community are invited to watch the virtual summit for FREE on September 23-27, 2019, or for a small fee, you can purchase an All-Access Pass to get access to the summit videos for 12 months along with a variety of other benefits.

Get Your Free Ticket