NewsPinellas County


St. Pete mom reunites with biological daughter she gave up for adoption 28 years ago

The two reunited using 23andMe
Posted at 10:16 PM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-14 07:59:14-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A St. Petersburg mother reunited with her biological daughter she gave up for adoption nearly 30 years ago.

Jennifer Ortiz gave birth to a baby girl more than 28 years ago. She said she wanted to give her daughter a better life.

"I was like OK, I can keep this baby or I can give her a chance at a better life because at the time, I didn’t really have anything to offer," said Jennifer Ortiz.

Ortiz said she wrote her daughter a few letters after she was adopted. It was a closed adoption so correspondence after that ended.

As years passed, she wondered if her daughter was curious about her birth family.

"I started losing hope that it was probably not going to happen... maybe she's not looking for me, maybe she doesn't want to find me," said Ortiz.

After more than 28 years, the two connected using a website called "23andMe." It is a website offering genetic testing and analyzes DNA.

The two reunited in 2019.

"It popped up 50% DNA match, probable mother, which was her," said her daughter, Julie Kitchen.

Julie Kitchen said she always knew she was adopted and was curious about her birth family.

"I have a few friends that are adopted and most of them had open adoptions so they're able to interact with their biological parents, whereas mine was closed," said Kitchen.

Kitchen said she tried not to cry when she met her biological mom for the first time at a local restaurant.

"She cried mostly. I was trying not to. I walked up and we hugged. She's like, 'You're so beautiful!'" Kitchen said.

The two said they try to meet up for holidays or to grab lunch whenever they can.

"There are pieces of you that you don't know anything about...Technology is a neat thing to be a part of this time in the world right now," said Ortiz.