Aransas Pass resident Keli TIner never gave up on finding her biological mom after she was given up for adoption, and in 2019, she finally got what a lot of adopted children want for Christmas.
"(It's) my first Christmas with my mom and family," Tiner said through tears. "Something I have wanted my whole life."
After 53 years apart, Tiner met her mom for the first time around this time last year -- but this family reunion has been decades in the making.
The reunion was made possible thanks to Keli's daughter, who did the digging using Google and a DNA website.
"She says 'Mom, do you want to make this phone call?' " Tiner said. "And I said 'I can't make that phone call. I don't want to be rejected again.' "
But Tiner's mom didn't reject her -- in fact, she welcomed her daughter with open arms.
"All I wanted was for her to hold me," Tiner said. "That's all i really wanted: for her to hold me."
The heartwarming reunion was caught on cell phone video as mom and daughter see each other for the first time in Washington State, where Tiner's mom lives, and where Tiner was born.
"That's a 'I want you in my life' kind of hug,"Tiner said. "It's not 'I'm just happy to see you.' That's a 'I really love you, and want you in my life' hug."
After more than five decades, Tiner had a lot of questions.
"We talked for two hours probably trying to get information," she said. "Answering questions -- so many questions. We had so many questions, like 'How many aunts and uncles do I have? How many cousins? Siblings?' "
And although this reunion took decades, at times, geographically, Tiner and her mother weren't far apart in their lives.
Keli's adoptive dad and her biological mom worked at the same Boeing plant in Washington State for years. They even lived close, never knowing of each other.
"Our high school band was chosen to do the music for the rollout of the (Boeing) 757, and my biological mom was standing there during the whole thing. In the crowd," Tiner said. "I said I was there, were you? She said, 'I was there!' So we were both there at the same time, not knowing."
Tiner said she is sharing her story because she wants to let people know, people who are searching for loved ones, that it can be done.