Mom Learns Baby She Was Told Died at Birth 30 Years Ago Is Actually Alive & Well

Tina Bejarano and son Kristin
ABC7

Stories of birth moms reuniting with their children years after giving them up for adoption never cease to tug at the heart strings. Usually, both parties have wondered for decades about what happened to the other, and are shocked and amazed when they finally make contact. However, one woman's story out of Los Banos, California, didn't quite go like that -- and probably wouldn't even be possible if it weren't for modern DNA technology.

  • For 30 years, Tina Bejarano mourned the loss of the baby she was told died shortly after childbirth in 1989.

    Bejarano was just 17 at the time, and in an interview with KMPH, she recalled how her mother forbid her to keep the baby girl. Just moments after the birth, the infant was whisked away. 

    It was the last time the mother was to see her child.

    "The next day, [my mother] comes back to tell me, 'The baby died 15 minutes after it was born. It never made it. It was sick,'" Bejarano said.

    For three decades, Bejarano grieved the loss of the baby she carried for nine months. But she wasn't alone in her sadness -- Eric Gardere, who was not the biological father of the baby, but married Bejarano shortly after the birth, has been grieving the child's loss, as well. Together, for the last 29 years, the couple has been celebrating the birth of the baby girl who they believed had lived just 15 short minutes. 

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  • So you can imagine the shock Bejarano felt this year when she received an email -- from the very child whom she was told she lost.

    The sender was a 29-year-old man named Kristin, who had an unbelievable story to share. After taking a DNA test, he'd learned that she was the mother who had given him up all those years ago. Five days after his birth, he was adopted by a loving family and raised in Las Vegas. 

    Though Kristin was born a girl, he is now in the process of transitioning, living in New Jersey with his wife and a new baby of their own. 

    Throughout his childhood, he had no idea who his birth mother was -- or what her reasons could be for giving him up. Little did he know Bejarano had never wanted to give him up in the first place, and had been burying the grief she'd felt about his passing for decades.

  • For several months, both Bejarano and Gardere have been communicating with Kristin, and building a new relationship they never expected.

    While they have not yet met in person, they have plans to in November. For the time being, they are limited to video chats and calls, but even that's been incredible for the mother who once thought she'd never see her son alive again.

    And while Bejarano may have never expected to gain a son in all of this, she says it doesn't matter -- she welcomes Kristin with open arms.

    "I don't care if he's in transition, I don't care if he hasn't transitioned ... I don't care," Bejarano told ABC. "That's my kid."

    "We're just glad he's alive," Gardere added.

  • For Bejarano, a huge sadness has been lifted that had been with her for far too long.

    "I would cry all the time," Bejarano said, when describing how she would frequently slip into a depression every year around the time of her baby's birth.

    Now, the date of Kristin's birth no longer brings sadness -- only happiness.

    "Looking at him just makes me want to cry," Bejarano told KMPH.

    Bejarano could barely believe her eyes when she received a message from what appeared to be a stranger several months ago.

    "I think we need to talk, it says we're related, and it says you're my mom," his email read.

    As it turned out, that email wound up changing both their lives.

  • It's been overwhelming for Gardere, too, who has always thought of the baby that was lost as his own child.

    And while the couple did go on to have children of their own -- including a daughter who encouraged Bejarano to take the DNA test -- the chance to connect with Kristin has been incredible.

    "We've been communicating with Kristin for a few months now," Gardere shared. "He calls me Dad, I call him Son, I text him every morning."

    It's safe to say both families are about to have a very happy holiday season this year, as they reunite next month just in time for Thanksgiving, with even more things to be grateful for.