The bond between a parent and their child is a strong one, as Christian Guerrero and his mother prove. When, as a young woman she gave birth, the new mom made an adoption plan to provide her baby with a better life. Well, the pair are finally reunited after 47 years, and they couldn’t be happier.
Ever since Guerrero separated from his mother, who wishes to remain unnamed, he felt something was missing. A piece of him was gone that, in time, he knew he had to reclaim. The same could be said for Guerrero’s mother too, who was heartbroken when circumstances forced the pair apart.
But even after almost five decades, mother and son kept hoping to meet again. For Guerrero, that search started when he used several different methods to locate his birth mother. And the questing son’s efforts paid off when he saw a photo of a particular woman and knew he had found her.
When Guerrero confirmed the woman in the picture was indeed his mother, he reached out to contact her. Thankfully, she was ecstatic to hear from him, and the pair arranged to meet. All that remained, then, was their reunion, which took Guerrero back to his place of birth. There, he experienced one of the most emotional moments of his life.
Guerrero was born in Austin, Texas, at Brackenridge Hospital in June 1972. However, the event was both a joyous occasion and an emotionally shattering one. That’s because Guerrero’s mother was just 14 when she gave birth. As a result, she chose adoption for the baby, so it was also the day the pair had to say goodbye.
But 47 years have passed since then, and a lot can change over the decades. For example, Guerrero no longer lives in Austin, having since moved to Abingdon, Maryland. During that time, he married a woman called Jennifer and got a rather unusual job. He, in fact herds goats for a living.
To be more specific, Guerrero is the lead goatherd for the Department of Transportation in Maryland. According to Facebook, that means he “herds goats as a vocational activity.” The social media site also goes on the describe the position as “similar to a shepherd who herds sheep.” So the man is clearly an animal lover, too.
Unlike Guerrero’s job, however, his adoption situation isn’t unique. Indeed, according to the Adoption Network, American families adopt 135,000 children annually, and there are over a million adopted children in the U.S. alone. And that’s not including the 428,000-strong children in foster care who struggle to find a forever home. Some, in fact, might never find a willing family.
Thankfully, over half the infants placed in private adoptions, however, are snapped up in the first month of their lives. And although it’s unclear how many families are waiting to adopt, it could be a many as two million households. So, it sounds like Guerrero was one of the lucky children who found their way into a waiting home.
Forty-seven years ago, Guerrero’s 14-year-old mother thought someone else could provide her son with a better life. With this in mind, she placed him with an adopted family, but he always felt he was missing something. “There’s a connection, a bond with your mother,” he told CBS Baltimore in 2019. “I can’t really explain it. I’ve never had it.”
And so Guerrero started searching for his biological mother, as he revealed in an interview with Austin’s KXAN News in 2019. “I’ve been looking for her really hard since Christmas of last year,” he explained. It can’t have been an easy search, either. There are often stipulations in adoption that limit information gathering, especially on the parent’s side.
For example, to arrange an adoption, the birth parents must first relinquish their legal rights to the child. Other laws vary from state to state, but in Texas, adoptees can’t easily access the original copy of their birth certificate, even when they reach adulthood. There are, however, a couple of exceptions to this rule.
An adoptee’s first option is to contact the court that originally dealt with their adoption and ask for their birth certificate to be released. There is, however, a second way to obtain the record, but it only became available in 2005. If an adoptee knows the name of their biological parent, they can then claim an non-certified birth document. But what if your family tree is a mystery? Luckily, there are a few ways around this problem.
One of the ways around unidentified birth parents is to investigate your genealogy yourself, and that’s exactly what Guerrero did. But where do you even begin researching something like that? Well for this adoptee, it all started with a Christmas gift that proved invaluable to the search ahead. Specifically, someone gave Guerrero a DNA testing kit.
The kit was actually for a website called Ancestry.com, which helps users explore their family history. According to its website, once you order a DNA test the process is simple. You provide a saliva sample and send it to the organization via the postal service. After which, the company’s genealogists compare it with 700,000 other samples worldwide.
“AncestryDNA is a cutting edge testing service that utilizes some of the latest autosomal testing technology to revolutionize the way you discover your family history,” the Ancestry.com website states. “This service combines advanced DNA science with the world’s largest online family history resource to predict your genetic ethnicity and help you find new family connections.”
Ancestry.com continues, “[The test] maps ethnicity going back multiple generations and provides insight into such possibilities as: what region of Europe are my ancestors from, or, am I likely to have East Asian heritage? AncestryDNA can also help identify relationships with unknown relatives through a dynamic list of DNA matches.”
The process can take anywhere from six to eight weeks, after which the organization will provide your results. But that was just the start of Guerrero’s journey. Indeed, it took more than a DNA database to locate his long-lost mother. That’s when he turned to the social media site Facebook for further answers.
Love it or hate it, one thing is certain about social media: it puts you in touch with people. In Guerrero’s case, he tracked down a Facebook group designed to reunite adoptees with their biological parents. In turn, he also managed to contact someone experienced with putting together family trees.
The person in question is a genealogist called Lois, who helped Guerrero find his mother. “Once I found her, I saw her picture,” the adoptee revealed to KXAN News in Austin in 2019. “[And] I knew it was her. That hole that I had, it started to fill up. I can’t wait to meet her.”
Guerrero then spoke to his mother on the phone, and at some point, they arranged to meet up. So he headed back to Austin, purchased some flowers and prepared to see his biological mother for the first time. Fortunately, news crews caught their reunion on camera, and it was heart-warming.
The video shows Guerrero’s mom rushing up to him with an “Oh my God,” and throwing her arms around him. “It’s so good to see you finally,” she cries as she holds him tightly. Their meeting is so emotional that it brings them both to tears, which continue throughout their subsequent interview.
“The last time I saw [Guerrero] was when I held him in my arms as a baby,” the mother said of her son. “And I was just a 14-year-old-teenager, and it was very difficult to let him go.” As for Guerrero, he explained during the interview that meeting his mom has completed him.
“For me, it’s filled a hole I’ve had in my heart for a long time,” a tearful Guerrero said. “I’m whole again,” he continued, hugging his mother and breaking down. “It’s okay,” she replied, “You’re here now, we’re together now.” The pair then spent five days in Austin getting to know each other.
Guerrero’s happy reunion isn’t the only joy-filled ending that DNA tests have helped produce, though. Indeed, an alternate genealogy website to Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, introduced an Ohio mother to her daughter after 30 years apart. It all began when Sue Bailey, née Ellis, discovered she was pregnant quite late into her term.
In fact, the mom-to-be was seven-and-a-half months pregnant when she found out she was carrying a child. In March 2019, Bailey – who is now 56 – told the AJC newspaper that, unfortunately, she didn’t feel properly prepared. She said, “I was not equipped to deal with a baby. It’s not that I didn’t love her.”
As a result, Bailey placed her daughter in an adoption program when she was born. However, the new mother always considered that her child might be curious about her beginnings later in life. “I made my choice on April 7, 1987,” Bailey revealed. “It was her quest, if she wanted to come find me.”
Shirley and Melvin Behrmann then brought up Bailey’s biological daughter as their own and named her Jenna. She grew up well-cared for and loved, but her adopted parents didn’t hide her origins. She told AJC, “They always told me I was adopted. I still had questions. I had to have answers.”
Behrmann’s search began in earnest in 2005, when her adopted mother passed away. Armed with her adoption records, she managed to glean a few scant tidbits of info. She also discovered her birth mother’s maiden name, despite an attempt to conceal it with Wite-Out on the paperwork. The name Sue Ellis was, in fact, just visible when exposed to light.
However, Behrmann’s quest didn’t get off to a promising start. Her search for a Sue Ellis proved fruitless. “I could never find anything,” she added, attributing the lack of success to her birth mother’s common names. But DNA technology succeeded where traditional methods failed, thanks to assistance from MyHeritage.
The family tree organization contacted Behrmann offering to provide a DNA test for free, which she gratefully accepted. Fortunately, the results turned up some information that her earlier efforts couldn’t. They pointed her to Massachusetts where her biological great aunt resided, who had additional breadcrumbs for the adoptee’s trail. She then discovered another family member.
To be more specific, Behrmann’s great aunt revealed that the adoptee had an uncle residing in Columbus, O.H. That was her next port of call, but it unfortunately wasn’t a direct line to her birth mom. On the other hand, the uncle did have another piece of the puzzle. It turned out that she had a half-sister called Rachel who had a social media account.
Fortunately, Bailey had the foresight to tell her subsequent children that they had a half-sister out there somewhere. So when Behrmann contacted Rachel on Facebook, it was probably less of a shock than it could have been. Rachel gave Behrmann her mother’s phone number and finally, 30 years after her adoption, she had a one-to-one with her biological mom.
“Within an hour, I was talking to [Behrmann] on the phone,” Bailey told AJC. “That was an awkward conversation.” On the other hand, however, it wasn’t an unexpected one. As she elaborated, “To be honest with you, I was not surprised [that she called].” It was shocking just how close her daughter lived, though.
In fact, Behrmann was just 45 minutes away by road in Loveland, O.H. So, how did the family react to the mother-daughter reunion, and how do they feel about it now? Bailey always maintained that she wouldn’t contact Behrmann out of respect for her life with her adopted family. She left that decision in her daughter’s hands.
“[Behrmann] was their daughter,” Bailey said of Shirley and Melvin. But the adoptee herself had more than one more surprise for Bailey. She had a five-year-old daughter of her own called Bonnie. That made the 56-year-old a grandmother for the 11th time! And of course, Bailey had kids of her own to introduce to her long-lost child to as well.
Bailey’s son, 23-year-old Aaraon, is one of them, and he couldn’t wait to meet his sibling. “I always knew she existed,” he revealed, “I just didn’t think it was going to happen. I’m ecstatic.” For her part, the adoptee didn’t know what to expect when she first called her birth mom, or how she would react.
Behrmann said, “When you’re adopted, you have no idea of the background that led up to your adoption. I didn’t know if [Bailey] would be accepting.” Now that she’s met her biological family members, though, the adoptee knows that she worried needlessly. “She was [accepting], and everyone in her family was completely accepting.”
Indeed, since Behrmann found her birth mother, she’s realized she was missing something all along. “I feel I’ve come full circle,” she told the AJC. “I feel complete.” As for Bailey, she hopes to see more of her daughter and granddaughter in the future, stating, “I expect a lot more visits.”
As technology advances and becomes more accessible, it seems that DNA testing is integral to uniting families. That’s something that Behrmann can attest to. “If it wasn’t for the test, I would probably still be looking for [Bailey],” she explained. Between that and the connection to people the internet provides, there’s still hope for people searching for their parents and children.