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.