A California woman who believed she lost her child at birth is now reuniting with her long-lost son — nearly 30 years later.
Tina Bejarano was only 17 years old when she gave birth to her first child. She told KMPH-TV that her own mother, who was abusive throughout her childhood, forced her to give the baby up for adoption.
"The next day, [my mom] comes back to tell me, 'The baby died 15 minutes after it was born. It never made it,'" Bejarano said. "It was sick."
Unaware her mother wasn't telling the truth, Bejarano went on to marry Eric Gardere and the couple had five children together. Bejarano told KHMP that for years she would "cry all the time," adding that she'd always become depressed around what she believed to be the day her baby died.
But that all changed last year when Bejarano received an email from a man who'd just taken a DNA test.
"I think we need to talk, it says we're related, and it says you're my mom," the message read.
That message was from Kristin Cooke, the son Bejarano thought she'd lost almost three decades earlier. As it turns out, Cooke had actually been adopted and raised in Las Vegas.
Cooke had never attempted to contact his mom before, but after taking a DNA test in the month's leading up to his own child's birth, he made a shocking discovery.
"All my emotions went kind of crazy at that moment," Cooke told In The Know of the moment he found his mother's name on Ancestry.com.
The 29-year-old reached out via email and Facebook, later receiving a response from Gardere, Bejarano's husband. It was a nerve-wracking moment for Cooke, who now lives in New Jersey with his wife and 7-month-old daughter.
"When I got that message back from Eric I was worried he was going to be this big scary guy saying, ‘Stay away from my family,’ but it was the complete opposite," Cooke told In the Know.
Bejarano and Gardere quickly embraced Cooke as their son, and the three began communicating regularly. Cooke told In The Know that he texts with the couple on a daily basis.
"Just knowing that she had a child that was ripped away — especially at such a young age, I can’t imagine that," Cooke said.
Cooke has yet to meet his birth mom and her husband in person, but his family has planned a trip to see them next month. The 29-year-old said he's definitely nervous but added that he knows it will be a "great experience."
“I feel blessed because not everyone has one family and now I have multiple," Cooke told In the Know.