Like many adopted children, Elizabeth Hunterton grew up aware that her nonbiological parents loved her. According to a recent interview with the former beauty pageant queen, she also had many dreams and ideas of how she came to be one of millions of children to be adopted every year in the United States.
As a young girl, Hunterton spent her youth dreaming that she’d come from royalty and had “been lifted away on the talons of a majestic eagle.”
Eventually, she learned that the truth was far more personal and tragic.
In January 1980, Hunterton was abandoned at the gate of a Nevada airport by two pilots
“I was about 10 days old,” Hunterton explained to People magazine in a recent interview. “I grew up my entire life trying to figure out what I did in those 10 days that ultimately led to them saying, ‘Let’s just leave her at the airport.'”
While Hunterton was adopted into a home soon after her abandonment the beauty pageant queen says in the years after, she often lamented a part of her life that she felt was missing. Fortunately, after taking a 23andMe test this past August, Hunterton has connected with her biological mother for the very first time.
Having had little to work with in regards to finding her biological parents (this includes having no birthplace, birth date or race) made life difficult for her when she was younger.
“It was really through this process of finding my birth mother that I’m able to rewrite my narrative,” she explained in the interview with People. “I had really prepared myself to be rejected by both sides of my biological family… And It ended up being so much more beautiful than anything I could’ve written.”
Hunterton was raised by a white family and crowned Miss Nevada in 2004.
Despite having a happy and loving upbringing, Hunterton felt lost about the uncertainty surrounding her own race. According to People, she often wondered if “everyone from her friends to her Starbucks barista were somehow related to her.”
“When this all started unfolding, there were certainly points that I thought to myself, ‘Maybe I’ll just walk away now,’ because it just got hard,” she explained. Eventually, in 2018, DNA databases helped Hunterton track down her biological father. Unfortunately, she soon discovered that he had died in 2004, and had never known she had been born.
Soon enough her search brought her to 23andMe where her profile found a few hits in March. Eventually, Hunterton reached out to three different women hopefully that one of them would be a match. All three ultimately proved not to be a match and Hunterton decided to give up after so much disappointment.
“I pulled out my bucket list, crossed it off, wrote her name down, and that was it,” she explained before sharing that just as she began to change her focus back to raising her 5- and 6-year-old sons, she received a ping for another connection. This time it came from a second cousin who offered to help put her in contact with her birth mother.
Hunterton soon learned that she had a Black father and a Japanese mother both of whom met at the Fort Ord military base. She also learned that she was born in a hospital in California and had not been intentionally abandoned.
“When I received her email, she shared that she wasn’t able to take care of me as she believed I deserved,” Hunterton explained to People. “Therefore, she gave me to her roommate who was supposed to take me to an adoption agency. When my birth mother was told that I was actually left at the airport instead, it took quite a toll.”
Hunterton explained because of her connection to her biological mother she was able to track down her birth certificate.
In an emailed statement to People Hunterton’s biological mother explained that at first she was “surprised, scared and truly overwhelmed” by the idea of meeting her daughter.
“I was shocked to hear from her and by the amount of research she did. It was all very overwhelming and brought back a lot of painful memories,” her biological mother who remains anonymous to People but shared that she is 65-year-old explained. “However, it’s also a tremendous blessing to find out what a strong and wonderful woman she turned out to be. One day, when we’ve all healed a bit more, hopefully, we’ll be able to meet.”
“She has such a good heart,” Hunterton explained of her mother. “We exchange occasional emails and texts and holiday niceties. But the good thing is, I have a mom. I don’t need to put any unfair, unrealistic expectations on her. I just give her permission to be exactly who she is and it’s perfect.”
“She’s now giving herself permission to live her life and it’s actually pretty beautiful,” Hunterton went onto explain of her biological mother. “She says, ‘All my hopes and dreams are in you. I never thought that anybody that looked like you could come from me, somebody that’s poised and eloquent and successful. Those are just things that never happened for me. But here you are.’ So now she’s living her life, and it’s pretty beautiful to watch her heal and kind of come to life… I think that was a really beautiful way for the story to unfold, that in the end, it flowed so beautifully, both through my mom, myself and my birth mother. It really kind of unified all three of us in different ways. But it was all I could’ve ever hoped for to hear from her.”
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