A woman was found at an airport gate as a baby and taken in by a loving adoptive family. She grew up wondering why her parents abandoned her as an infant and began digging for answers. But was she prepared to embrace the truth?
Adoption has emerged as a life-changing phenomenon over time, forging long-lasting and profound connections. However, sometimes, adoptees might yearn to find closure with their biological family and learn about the events that led to their adoption.
A woman from Las Vegas, Nevada, battled the same thoughts and feelings and wished to find answers to her many nagging questions. But when she finally solved her life's mysterious puzzle, she was rendered shocked and speechless.
[Left] Elizabeth Muto Hunterton as a little girl; [Right] Hunterton pictured as a baby with her adoptive mom. | Source: facebook.com/elizabeth.hunterton | youtube.com/Inside Edition
THE HEARTBREAKING TRUTH
Elizabeth Muto Hunterton wasn't an average child. She was immensely talented, full of potential, and was fortunate to have a family that encouraged her dreams. She graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and became the first Black Miss Nevada in 2004.
Hunterton always knew she was adopted and spent her youth dreaming that she was a princess hailing from royalty who probably got lost along the way. But the truth was far different than her teenage fantasies. She told PEOPLE:
"I was about 10 days old. 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.'"
Elizabeth Muto Hunterton as a baby. | Source: YouTube.com/Inside Edition
ABANDONED AS A BABY
She was found abandoned at an airport gate at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada by two pilots in January 1980. Unlike most people whose life began at birth, Hunterton said her life started when she was found at the airport.
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She was adopted by Tom and Katherine Muto, who shared that the moment they saw Hunterton, they knew she was meant to be their daughter. The Nevada resident revealed she was lucky to have an amazing adoptive family who taught her everything she knew.
THE NAGGING QUESTIONS
Hunterton is now married and has three sons, including a stepson. She often traveled through the airport, where she was found as a beauty pageant consultant, which left her with one nagging question that refused to leave her mind. She recalled:
"You don't wonder the how or the why or the what ... [you wonder] what could I have done so wrong?"
Like any adopted child, she wished to know her family history and why her parents left her at the airport. She grew up in a white family in Reno, Nevada, and had no information about her birthplace, birth date, or race.
DIGGING THROUGH THE DNA DATABASE
She turned to DNA databases, tracked down her biological father in 2018, and learned he had died in 2004 without knowing about her birth. The revelation broke Hunterton's heart and left her with even more questions.
Hunterton gathered herself and turned to the popular ancestry database 23&Me. After a few hits in March 2020 that left her nowhere, she felt hopeless and was on the verge of giving up her search until something unexpected happened.
She recalled that she was busy home-schooling her sons in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic when a second cousin reached out to her and finally connected her with her biological mother.
Elizabeth Muto Hunterton was crowned the first Black Miss Nevada in 2004. | Source: YouTube.com/Inside Edition
FINDING THE ANSWERS
It was August 2020, and Hunterton, a confident beauty pageant winner, felt nervous and speechless while writing a handwritten two-page letter. Soon afterward, she typed an emotional email to the woman she never thought she would find.
Hunterton finally had the answers to her questions: her Japanese mother and Black father met at the Fort Ord military base, and she was born in a hospital in California. But she also learned something that finally healed her heart. Hunterton revealed:
"When I received her email, she shared that she wasn't able to take care of me as she believed I deserved. Therefore, she gave me to her roommate who was supposed to take me to an adoption agency."
GRAPPLING WITH THE EMOTIONS
Moreover, Hunterton shared that it took an emotional toll on her birth mom when she discovered her roommate had left the baby at the airport. Another source of delight was when Hunterton learned she was given the middle name "Elizabeth" at birth.
Her biological mom, who chose to stay anonymous, expressed that she was "surprised, scared, and truly overwhelmed" to connect with Hunterton.
The then 65-year-old woman shared she looked forward to meeting her long-lost daughter in person and was proud of the person she had become. Hunterton shared she couldn't wait to meet her mom in San Franciso Bay area once the coronavirus restrictions eased.
41 YEARS IN THE MAKING
After 41 years of endless searching and insurmountable pain, Hunterton was glad she finally got the closure she needed. The author and consultant remarked that reuniting with her birth mom helped her beautifully rewrite her narrative. She also added:
"The highest highs, the lowest lows. A lot of prayer, but in the end, I did find my biological mother. I count my blessings every day."
We are so happy Hunterton finally reconnected with her birth mother and found the answers she needed to feel at peace. Please share this story with your family and friends.
Here's another story that you might like, and it's about a birth mom who reunited with her long-lost son after 33 years of separation. You can read the whole story by clicking here.