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Woman finds birth mom after 34 years in emotional reunion following closed adoption

Rachel Ruiz has great reason to celebrate. After a closed adoption, finding birth parents is a huge challenge but she did it! After 10 years of searching, Ruiz finally had the emotional reunion that she had been yearning for.

In a TikTok video posted in March, Ruiz said, “I finally reunited with my birth mom after 34 years. My adoption was closed and I’ve been trying to find her for over 10 years with failed attempt after failed attempt.”

The video shows Ruiz nervously approaching the front door to welcome her birth mother, Angie Howard. Mother and daughter embrace tightly, and Howard plants a warm kiss on her daughter’s forehead. 

A freelance photographer in Lehi, Utah, Ruiz shared that she was 2 weeks old, and her mom was 17, at the time of the closed adoption. Her adoptive parents – Brent and Marianne Haslam – had always been honest.

Ruiz said, “My parents were open about telling me from a young age that I was adopted, so it wasn’t a secret and I never felt as though I wasn’t their daughter.” Still, finding her birth parents was an urge that would not go away.

Finding birth parents in adoption cases is never an easy task. It’s more challenging in the case of a closed adoption though, as both sets of parents indicated that they want to maintain their privacy. In Ruiz’s case, even her biological father’s identity was not listed on the adoption papers.

The adoptive parents with the birth mom.

Angie (middle) with the adoptive parents, Brent and Marianne. | Instagram

Still, Ruiz was set on finding her birth parents. She had very little information to work on though, aside from her mother’s physical description, education level, and a list of hobbies.

When Ruiz turned 18, she received two valuable gifts from Howard that her parents had kept for her – a knit blanket and a letter written on the day of her birth.

Howard’s letter expressed the wish for mother and daughter to reunite one day. For Ruiz, this was the push that started the journey to finding her birth parents.

She said, “I wanted to show her that this decision was a good one and that I was happy and healthy. That’s when my parents and I put in the work to find her.”

As expected, finding birth parents in this situation was quite difficult. Ruiz contacted the agency involved in her adoption.

Unfortunately, they were unable to provide new information. Still, while thoroughly checking her adoption papers and squinting through correction fluid, she did find out that her birth mother’s maiden name was Deveraux. However, she was unable to find anything while searching for her mother’s name online.

In 2014, she turned to genealogy company Ancestry for help in finding her birth parents. She took a DNA test, which revealed her English and Welsh heritage, as well as possible family matches with the last name Deveraux.

An online search produced an obituary for Ruiz’s grandfather Richard Deveraux, where Angie was listed as a surviving relative.

Ruiz stated, “From there, I found Angie’s Facebook profile. I sent her a Facebook message that basically said, ‘Hey, I believe we are related after looking at my adoption papers and my DNA test.'”

It took a while for Howard to see her message, but maybe it was a good sign that she would get to read Ruiz’s message on Christmas Day. She immediately responded.

“She wrote, ‘I think you are onto something … I’ve been praying for this day for 34 years and always wished you would show up on my doorstep,'” recalled Ruiz.

She immediately printed out the Facebook conversation and gave it to her adoptive parents as a Christmas gift.

They were just ecstatic that Ruiz was finally successful in finding her birth parent. Ruiz added, “Angie said, ‘I am coming to Utah and would love to meet you.’ She wanted her family to be complete.”

After the arduous task of finding her birth parent, mother and daughter met for the first time on January 26, 2023.

Ruiz said, “I was pacing the floor and my heart was beating a million times a minute. I saw Angie pull up through the doorbell camera and remove her coat and set her purse down so she could hug me.”

When the two finally faced each other, Ruiz felt like she was looking into a mirror. They shared the same facial features and low voice. Both were artistic and free-spirited.  

Howard also got to meet the parents who raised Ruiz. “My mom thanked Angie, as my parents couldn’t have biological children. Angie said how grateful she was that I was raised by such loving parents. She always prayed for that,” said Ruiz.

Howard, who was accompanied by her husband Teddy, also met Ruiz’s husband Felix and their 2-year-old son Enzo.

Ruiz also learned about her mother’s family, including 30-year-old half-sister Treasure living in Arizona, as well as half-brother DJ, who died of cancer as a child.

To add to the already emotional reunion, Ruiz even had the chance to meet her biological grandmother three days before her grandmother died.

TikTok viewers also got caught up in all the drama of finding Ruiz’s birth parent. One commenter stated,

“You can tell she never stopped loving or thinking about you for a second.” Another wrote, “The way your moms hugged each other … you could feel the gratitude they had for each other.”

In June, Ruiz and her husband will be welcoming a baby girl via surrogate, to add to their blended family including his daughter Isabel and their adopted son Enzo. A new baby after finding her birth parent? This, Ruiz said, “is a dream come true.”

The video resonated so much with the public that it has since generated 4.6 million views on TikTok and thousands of likes on Instagram. Watch the emotional reunion below:

@rachelhruiz I finally reunited with my birth mom after 34 years! My adoption was closed and I’ve been trying to find her for over 10 years with failed attempt after failed attempt. Thank you @ancestry for being a huge reason why this was able to happen. #adoption #birthmomreunion #adoptionreunion #birthmom #adoptionsucess #closedadoption #ancestrydna #love ♬ Unstoppable (I put my armor on, show you how strong I am) – Sia

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