“The most botched adoption reunion ever?”

“Everything of value I have ever done scared the heck out of me—overcoming the fear and anxiety of college graduation, qualifying as a nurse, getting married, having a baby, opening a retail business, teaching at the college level, skiing in the Alps, and public speaking were difficult challenges to overcome—but meeting my birth parents for the first time was the greatest fear I ever faced.” —Judith Land, author & adoptee

Judith Land | Adoption Detective

Candy coated almonds are a traditional treat appropriate as hostess gifts for Italian family gatherings, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and special events.

My knees were weak. My heart was pumping. My chest was throbbing. Rebecca graciously opened the front door to her house, smiled broadly, and leaned forward to welcome me with open arms and a big kiss on the cheek. “You must be my daughter Judy?”

“You must be my birth mother, Rebecca?”

I was carrying a small package of Italian candy coated almonds as a hostess gift and token of appreciation. In our clumsy nervousness the handoff was somehow botched. The bag of candied almonds dropped onto the tile floor and flew off in every direction, wildly spinning and bouncing into the hall closet, den and living room, bouncing off walls and careening under chairs, bookcases and sofa tables. One of them amusingly bounced into my brother’s pants cuff.

Impulsively, Rebecca and I simultaneously swooped down to pick them up and cracked our heads together. The family dog barked with excitement as he wildly twirled around knocking me over with his backside. I felt like a turtle tipped over on its shell. The long awaited cinematic Hallmark moment and sentimental Disney story I had visualized all my life was shattered. The romantic formality of our long anticipated adoption reunion was turned into a slapstick comedy of epic proportions. Pandemonium ensued. Facing each other on our hands and knees, our noses inches apart, I rolled myself back to an upright position. Rebecca smiled graciously. Disregarding my carefully written speech, lengthy rehearsals, and high expectations, the entire family simultaneously burst into raucous laughter. Rebecca and I stood up smiling and holding hands. We hugged. We had an instant connection.

Between laughs, everyone agreed—they had just witnessed the most botched mother and daughter adoption reunion of all time.


Part 1 – Preparing for the Adoption Reunion


Judith Land | Adoption FAQ’s | Adoption Detective Book

adozione reunion | adoption de la Réunion | 收养团聚 | 채용 재회 | Реюньон Принятие

About Judith Land

Judith Land lives in Colorado and Arizona with husband and coauthor Martin Land. Judith is a former nurse, retail shop owner, college instructor and avid outdoor person. Her book "Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child" is a true story detailing the journey of Judith Romano, foster child and adoptee, as she discovers fragments of her background, and then sets out to solve the mystery as an adult. She has reached readers in 192 countries. "Mothers and fathers everywhere in the world need to understand that children are forever and always." --Judith Land
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19 Responses to “The most botched adoption reunion ever?”

  1. Pingback: “Preparing for the Adoption Reunion” | Judith Land | Adoption Detective | Adoption Detective | A Novel By Judith Land

  2. Pingback: Adoption Search—the history of voluntary adoption registries | Adoption Detective | A Novel By Judith Land

  3. Pingback: Adoption Detective is a story that is hard to forget—keep a hanky close at hand | Judith Land | Adoption Detective | A Novel By Judith Land

  4. Pingback: Yuck it up! Laughter is cheap medicine | Adoption Detective | A Novel By Judith Land

  5. JK says:

    I love this reunion. Unfortunately, my birthmother had passed away before I met her! My book is Call Me Ella. I love reading reunion stories!

    • Judith Land says:

      Thanks for sharing information about your book. Call Me Ella, a heartwarming and uplifting story about a young girl who wants to know her heritage that involves Sopranos-like tales of organized crime, gambling, and infidelity; a memoir of love, family, loss and perseverance that shows how we can work to achieve our happy ending.

    • Judith Land says:

      The adoption reunion is one of the most unique and anticipated experiences of a life-time for adoptees. I planned every detail and rehearsed what I would say to my birth mother for many weeks before finally meeting her in person. The abrupt and unexpected loss of formally and raucous laughter immediately broke the ice in a way that I had never anticipated—an amusing event I have never stopped telling.

  6. I don’t have a story and probably never will. Letting go of the idea of it was necessary for my sanity. I guess I will just keep reading everyone else’s.

    • Judith Land says:

      Lynda, Everyone has a story to tell, whether it is real or imaginary, and we all love a mystery. Sixty percent of American are directly affected by a story of adoption and that is why they resonate globally with persons of all ages in every culture. Best selling novels are character-driven stories that have a consistent, well-designed, and an exciting plot with unexpected turns. They highlight individuals that have reasons for their actions, who are distinguished, alluring, and realistic, that the reader wants to know more about. The theme is profound and the setting, time, and place easy to imagine and in the end the reader experiences a shift in understanding of life’s trajectory. I believe you do have a hidden story to tell that is lurking in your imagination that is just as valuable as anyone else’s story… Judith

  7. I have yet to meet my birthmom (but did find her in 2012) Thanks for sharing stories! I will look for these books!

    • Judith Land says:

      Tricia. I wish you Godspeed. Those who don’t read have no advantage over those who can’t. Learning from others can provide valuable lessons. Maybe, that is why stories of orphans like Heidi, Ann of Green Gables, Oliver Twist, Little Orphan Annie and others have endured for so long. My birth mother stonewalled me for a long time—but I was a modern Pandora—I refused to give up Hope. Her initial rejection of me left me catatonically feeling like one of those air-filled child’s punching dolls with a weighted bottom that always returns to an upright position, no matter how hard it is socked in the eye. I think most adoptees have an emotional need for a curative and breakthrough reality that will finally make sense out of their disrupted life stories because they never understand the reason for this lifelong punishment. As adults they are capable of making their own decisions about search and reunions. They don’t view themselves as permanent children in need of lifelong supervision and protection. When fully grown, they think of their birth mothers with growing wisdom and in the spirit of forgiveness, but they must learn to be patient because acceptance of the new reality and a formal conciliation between mother and child can be a very lengthy process.

  8. Melynda says:

    I will think over you and your birth mum every time I eat one of those candy coated almonds now. What a great story.

    • Judith Land says:

      Hi Melynda, When we approach life with a smile the world often smiles back and when we allow ourselves to experience new things, go different places, eat new foods, and meet unfamiliar people the more likely we are to have serendipitous encounters—be pleasantly surprised, make sagacious new discoveries, and encounter fortuitous happenstances by accident that we were not originally in quest of. Nobody makes it out alive, so never take life too seriously. Enjoy the people who make you laugh because individuals who see humor in things and laugh regularly have healthier hearts and live longer. Laughter does not require large amounts of time or money to be applied. Laughter has physiological, psychological, social, spiritual, and quality-of-life benefits. Laughter bolsters the immune system, reduces stress hormones, and increases our tolerance to pain. Poke a little fun at yourself. After all, if you fail miserably at something with an epic flair, you’ll have humiliating humorous stories to tell about yourself for posterity. Judith

  9. Bayou Bleu says:

    If this story is about a botched reunion, count yourself lucky. justsay’n

    • Judith Land says:

      How true! There are many situations in life that are stressful and depressing that give us headaches. Adoption is a situation that often affects individuals in egregiously bad ways but when things out of our control go wrong we need to relax and not always go into crisis mode. Humor is one of the best ways to relieve stress and anxiety. We need to assertively strive for a balance in our lives to feel good about ourselves and remain emotionally stable. When we see the humorous side of things we tend to stay in a positive mood, our self-esteem increases and we feel healthier.

  10. kayleenhilyer says:

    My reunion wasn’t an “Oprah” moment either. We agreed to meet at a local restaurant Of course neither one of us had any clue what the other looked like. So my mom and her friend (they had found her) sat in the car then came in later. She was afraid to let me go by myself. I sat down at a table. My birth mother and her grandmother were sitting in the booth right next to me. She said, “Are you Kayleen?” I said yes….she said “I’m your birth mother Kathy.” That was it. I had made a little photo album of pictures from the time I was a baby until then….that was 1996 and I was 23. Needless to say it didn’t turn into any kind of relationship….for a while we kept in contact, but she dropped off the face of the earth. All the while though, I was close to her mom, grandmother, and sister. When asked, she always told them that “when she saw me or thought about me it made her think of things she needed to forget.” A few years later, I found out that she has had multiple abortions since me. I was born in November of 73, ten months after abortion was legalized. She was only 15 and my birth father was 18. They were going to get married…all the papers were signed…but PRAISE GOD the judge didn’t let them! My “nonidentifying” info that the adoption agency was unique (the spelling of her name & her parents names) enough and we live in a very small place that it only took about a week to find her. She actually only lives 30 minutes from me. I have not met my birth father. She said she talked to him but “he wasn’t interested”. I know a tiny bit of medical info from her maternal side of the family. But that is it…and not anything that is helpful. I have written letters requesting it…but neither responded. Sometimes I get very angry about that and am tempted to just show up on his doorstep. He lives in the same town she does…and his phone number and address are in the book. But I don’t want to cause trouble. His wife may not even know I exist. I send her a Mother’s Day card every year. I get a general one…not a “to my mother” one. She is not my mom….my mom is my mom! I always put in it that I would like to have coffee if she would like….and always include my address and phone number. I feel like it is important for me to leave that door open. The ball is in her court. But I believe God wants me to always give her the opportunity to contact me if she wants. There was a movie that came out about 2 years ago. It is called “October Baby”. It is incredible. It is loosely based on the life story of Gianna Jensen who survived a saline abortion. The character in the movie, Hannah and I share some similar things is our story. Won’t give any of it away….but it is a great movie!

    • Judith Land says:

      Bless you for sharing your story. All adoptees seem to face a unique set of psychological and emotional issues that others don’t. Suffering in silence and feeling troubled about issues we don’t fully understand is what many of us habitually have in common. Having the support of someone with a heart who understands us and is willing to listen and lend a helping hand and provide emotional support when we are feeling hopelessly adrift, troubled by circumstances, or the behavior of others is a gift and we should do the same for others. The most difficult times to endure are the ones when there is nobody there to help us overcome distress and discouragement and breach the troubling rift between significant others. Ultimately, the emotional depths of some moments in life are so overwhelming that they can only be resolved by God.

    • Judith Land says:

      I will definitely take a look at the 2011 American Christian-themed dramatic film “October Baby” directed by Andrew and Jon Erwin and starring Rachel Hendrix. Thanks for the suggestion. Judith

  11. Pingback: Adoption and Conventional Wisdom | Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child

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