MIAMI – After nearly four decades knowing just one image of my birth mother and just weeks after hearing her voice for the first time I can remember, we were finally going to meet face to face.
My family went with me to the Hyde Midtown Miami, where the hotel reserved a special room for the reunion.
"It's weird to look at somebody and see yourself," I said. "I've never had that in my entire life."
"That's true," Lisa said. "That's true, but I'm looking at you and I'm like, 'Holy mackerel, you are us.'"
It was surreal to meet the woman who gave me life and then gave me up so I could have a better life.
"I was 16, you know what I mean? And you needed more than I could give you," Lisa said.
"You're amazing," I told her.
"No, I'm not," she replied.
"Yes, you are," I said. "Because, I mean, it's one thing to say you'll do something, but it's another thing to do it."
"It was rough," Lisa explained. "You know, it was really hard, because I got to hold you and I got to feed you and I got to change your diaper, but I talked to your mom and I knew then that I was doing the right thing."
My four children immediately gravitated to their new "abuela."
"We have a lifetime of questions and answers," I told her.
"Yeah we do," she said, laughing. "We do."
"And the best part of that is that door is open," I continued. "That conversation is open. This is the beginning of an addition to our family, almost a homecoming. I mean, there's so many parts of this that looking forward makes it so exciting because now you've got these four in your world."
I've been calling Lisa "mom," filling her in on the little things many mothers know about their children -- favorite foods, friends and memories. I've been getting answers to the questions that have hovered in my head and heart for years.
"Would you do it again?" I asked her.
"At 16, yes, because look at who you are now," she said. "I wouldn't change that for the world."
I thanked her and told her, "I love you."
"I love you, too," she said.
"I'm so thankful and grateful for what you did for me," I told her.