SALT LAKE CITY — Jenessa Simons has known she was adopted since she was 2 years old. But she knew little about her biological parents until she met them — through Facebook.
She took a "shot in the dark" Sunday when she decided to turn to the social media website to locate her biological parents. In just two days, her efforts paid off.
“It was awesome to hear from her, but I was mostly in shock,” Simons said of her biological mother. “I didn’t know what to say.”
Simons said she was adopted when she was 3 days old. When she turned 18, she started the search for her biological parents.
“But I had a lot of roadblocks because I wasn't 21 yet, and 21 is the legal age you can submit papers to the state through vital statistics,” she said.
"Everyone on Facebook has been posting posters like, 'One million likes and I get a puppy,' and I thought, 'Hey, these are getting shared around. I've seen kids get likes and get a puppy, so I should probably give it a shot.'"
She turned 21 in November, and one day while looking at her own son, she said she thought, “He knows who his parents are, I should probably get on figuring out who mine are.”
She submitted some paperwork and thought she would give it time for someone at vital statistics to get back to her. While waiting for a response, she decided to post a photo of herself holding a sign describing her search and asking people to like and share her post.
“Everyone on Facebook’s been posting posters like, 'One million likes and I get a puppy,' and I thought, ‘Hey, these are getting shared around. I’ve seen kids get likes and get a puppy, so I should probably give it a shot,'” she said.
With the help of friends, it didn't take long for the post to go viral. As of Wednesday afternoon, her photo had more than 12,000 likes and 133,600 shares.
It took her just two days to find her biological mother.
“Mostly shock, I think,” Simons said when asked about her biological mother's initial reaction. “She was just very surprised. It was kind of intermittent messaging each other, but she said she told her extended family and they were all completely ecstatic that I had gotten hold of her.”
Her biological mother was living just minutes from where she grew up. Her birth mother has also contacted Simons’ biological father, who lives out of state. He then contacted Simons.
“He sounded really surprised, but happy,” she said while laughing.
While her biological parents aren’t together anymore, she said she was pleased to hear they still stay in touch with each other. She has so many questions to ask, she said, it's hard to know where to start.
This journey has been meaningful to Simons for several reasons. She wants to know her medical history for her son's sake, but more than anything, she said, "I can’t really explain it, I just want to know where I came from.”
She understands why she was placed for adoption. She said her biological parents were both very young, 16 years old, when they had her, and relationships like that don’t often last, and if they do last they aren’t always healthy.
“Obviously they both cared enough about me to say, 'We need to give her a family that's stable, and she can come find us later,' which I appreciate more than anything,” she said.
Simons met her biological mother in person for the first time Wednesday afternoon. She hopes to meet her biological father soon.
She said she loves her adoptive parents and telling them she found her biological parents was a big deal.
“They were both really happy, and they want to meet my birth mother, too,” she said.
Contributing: Nkoyo Iyamba