From 23 Years of Emptiness to a Lifetime of Happiness
Who knew that one message on a dating website would change Terry and Terrell’s world forever?
Terry and Terrell are 23 year old twin brothers who had long learned to rely on themselves for support. Their childhood can be described as rocky, at best. Before their first birthday, they entered the foster care system. As they later learned, their mother had been unable to care for them due to her drug addiction. They were adopted by an older woman, who they affectionately began to know as “Grandma”. However, as the boys grew older, Grandma’s health and emotional state began to rapidly decline. The complexities of her needs were challenging for the young boys and the relationship became tumultuous.
“We knew there had to be someone else out there. We never fully felt like we belonged. We were great at basketball, and would always hope that someone would be sitting there to support us in the stands at our games…but no one ever was,” Terrell explains of their upbringing.
On one fateful day in December 2016, Terrell messaged a young woman named Natalya on the dating website Plenty of Fish. Natalya, who describes herself as naturally curious, was quickly enamored by his charm and character. As their relationship blossomed, Terrell shared that he and his twin brother had been adopted. They had no prior knowledge of their biological family. Although they had questioned and search, all they had found were dead ends. After a lifetime of feeling that they had been unloved and unwanted, their fire and resolve to find family had grown dimmer until all that remained were embers.
As the couple fell more deeply in love, Natalya knew she wanted to help give Terrell the one thing he wanted more than anything: a family. Weeks went by as she called around, trying to uncover information that would help Terry and Terrell in their search. Finally, this year, on July 7th, they received a call that would make their hearts stop. It was a Friday.
By that afternoon, ears ringing with promise, Terrell and Terry learned their biological name for the first time: Williams. They learned they had aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters. Most importantly, they learned the name of their mother.
“I felt a rush of adrenaline. I thought it was going to be a dead end, and it turned out to be this huge step. I couldn’t go to sleep. I couldn’t even grasp it,” Terry says of the news.
Natalya spent all day and night uncovering the puzzle pieces of the twin’s lives. She learned that their family was located in Orlando and St. Petersburg, not states away like the twins had imagined. In the process of her investigation, Natalya came across information on the boys’ stepfather. Although the information was dated from the year 1994, her chest filled with hope as she dialed the only phone number listed – that of his then employer.
Natalya waited with baited breath as the phone rang, only exhaling after a cheerful voice informed her that a man by the name of Andy Williams was, in fact, still employed there. She excitedly left her phone number and contact information, mentioning that she was calling to locate family. Unfortunately, the hours passed and a phone call never came. Later, Natalya and the twins would learn that the receptionist mixed up the last two digits of her phone number and, though he tried, Andy Williams was unable to reach them.
Not one to be defeated, Natalya continued her search. She prayed that there might be just one more nugget of information to help the boys locate members of their family. Her prayers were answered when she came across another relative, an aunt by the last name name of Marion. With a leap of faith, Natalya searched Facebook to see if there was anyone by that name in the Greater Orlando area. She and Terrell messaged three different women, hoping to find the one they were seeking.
Ten minutes later, Terrell’s inbox on Facebook messenger exploded with activity. One of the women responded, and upon receiving Terrell’s number immediately called him. Tearfully, she exclaimed that she was the Aunt he was looking for. She not only knew his mother, but was still in touch with his siblings and the rest of his family as well. By 10pm that very night, Terrell, Natalya, and Terry were on their way to meet the family they always longed for, but never knew they had.
“I was able to witness 23 years of emptiness, pain, love, and happiness,” Natalya says. “All of their lives they had only known each other. Now they have a whole clan of family who has shown them nothing but love since they’ve been reunited.”
The total amount of time from receiving the initial information to meeting their family was less than 36 hours. A shocking revelation also came to light; unbeknownst to each other, the young men and their biological family lived only two blocks away from each other.
The two young men happily report that they have spent every single day since that remarkable first night visiting with their brother Zachary, and meeting the rest of their siblings and other family members. They even took a trip to meet family in St. Petersburg. The turnout was so immense to reunite with the twins that the family filled an entire block with people who wanted to shower them with love and hugs. To say that the emotions that day were overwhelming is putting it lightly.
“It was a dream,” Terry sums up of their whirlwind experience. “I felt like I was in a Lifetime movie. This just isn’t something that happens in real life. All I could do was cry.”
If you are interested in connecting with a loved one that you have lost touch with due to adoption from foster care, we encourage you to begin the process of re-connecting by registering for the Florida Adoption Reunion Registry: http://www.adoptflorida.com/reunion-registry.htm.