The heartwarming and tearful embrace of a woman and her birth mother, meeting for the first time, was caught on camera in California.
Heather Odell, 31, first started searching for her biological parents at the age of eight, according to Jukin Media, which published the video on Sunday showing her success in finding her mom.
It was a photo she had found of herself as a baby at a foster home that started the long journey that ended in so many happy tears in the city of Redding.
‘Oh, my God, let me look at you, you’re beautiful!’ her mother, Renee Hamilton, tells her after just a moment of letting it all sink in.
The story of their reunion, as Odell tells it, includes a whirlwind of her own personal detective work, a lackluster meeting at age 18 with her biological father, finding Hamilton on Facebook only to learn her mother was in prison, a lost job and an impromptu roadtrip that eventually provided the opportunity for them to meet.
When it was all said and done, Hamilton let Odell go just long enough for a semi-twirl and then wraps the young woman up again in her arms, in a mother’s loving embrace.
Odell said she was adopted at 18 months old, and didn’t know it until she found the baby picture of herself, at the age of eight.
‘The picture had a different last name than what mine was [so] I questioned my mom and then she told me,’ Odell said.
‘It was an open adoption so I took it upon myself to do all the research and try to find my biological parents.’
Odell said she found her biological father first, and met him when she was 18 years old.
‘We didn’t really have much of a bond after,’ she said. Then, through Facebook she was able to track down her biological mother, Hamilton.
‘But she was not responding to my messages or anything like that, so I wrote her friends off of her page, [and] come to find out she was in prison for robbing a liquor store around the corner from her house with her boyfriend, [who] is the same age as [me],’ Odell said.
‘Renee was also adopted and had a really rough life, [involving] lots of drug and alcohol abuse. I finally reached out and found which prison she was at. I wrote her with my first letter. She wrote back with such surprise! We then continued to write back and forth.’
She added: ‘When Renee finally got out of prison she wanted to meet me. I had no intentions of meeting her but one day I lost my job at work and I thought to myself, “What the hell, I want to meet my biological mom,” so I made a trip out of it, drove up to Redding and met her!’
The clip of the culmination of this long journey starts with Odell walking up a few steps and along a cement sidewalk.
It’s clear she’s nervous, as she fidgets by adjusting her grey tank top over her denim shorts, while she makes her way closer to the front door of the home where her biological mother is waiting inside.
Just before she steps up to the door, she flicks her wrists in an apparent effort to shake out even more nerves before coming face-to-face with the woman who gave her life.
As she approaches the entry way, her dark flip-flops come to rest on a mat that reads, ‘Welcome,’ accented by a colorful zigzag pattern.
The camera then pans up to show her raising her arm, poised to knock and announce her arrival.
But Odell doesn’t tap the door, just yet. First, she adjusts her hair one last time, separating it in the middle and bringing even amounts forward, over her shoulders.
Then, she wipes her hands on the back of her shorts, raises her arm, and this time raps her fist on the door a few times, before stepping back and fidgeting even more.
As she waits for someone to answer, she turns to camera and we see her face for the first time, with a huge grin stretching from ear-to-ear.
The first face seen at the door is a man in a blue shirt, and then a woman who will soon be revealed to be the mother can be seen to the left, as a small dog rushes outside and barks to greet the newcomer.
Odell hunches over a bit, overcome by emotion, and a soft voice says, ‘C’mon in,’ from somewhere in the distance.
Before she can step foot indoors, a young boy also steps up, wearing a red t-shirt and a diaper, waving his hand and saying ‘Hi’ to the long-haired brunette in the doorway.
The man scoops the child up in his arms, Odell steps inside, and Hamilton can then be heard repeating, ‘Oh, my God,’ a few times before wrapping her daughter up in her arms.
In between sobs and deep breaths, Hamilton says, ‘Oh, my God, it’s my daughter,’ and grabs Odell’s face, as another young woman can be seen filming the interaction in the background from another angle.
‘I love you,’ Hamilton says, followed by, ‘Thank you, thank you,’ as she grips on to her oldest daughter for dear life.
Odell also said that one of the people she reached out to in order to get in contact with her birth mom turned out to be the father of her biological brother, Cody Lowry.
Odell wrote in a post on Facebook that she was aware of Cody, and had found her mother in ‘2012 or 2013,’ several years before she was able to actually meet her.
The video was first posted on August 25 and was acquired by Jukin Media on Saturday.