Christina Bustamante Gray
YUBA CITY, CA - Sixty three years after giving up her firstborn child for adoption, Helen Torres has been given a chance to correct what she calls the biggest mistake of her life.
Torres, 80, has been reunited with the daughter she hadn't seen in decades, thanks to a posting on Facebook.
PHOTOS: Torres and daughter she gave up for adoption
In 1948, Torres, then 17, gave the newborn she named Christina to a Whittier couple after being forced to live in a home for unwed mothers.
"I gave her a kiss and got into the car with my mother and we took off," Torres said.
Torres later married and raised five other children, but she said the loss of Christina left a hole in her heart.
"I always remembered March 8, it was Christina's birthday," Torres said. "I kept it to myself. I would just go off by myself and say 'happy birthday.'"
Torres watched from a distance during Christina's early childhood, but lost track of her at about age 12.
Torres' other children made various attempts to find Christina, but the searches always led to a dead end.
Then in January, Torres' youngest daughter, Deneen, created a Facebook page using all the possible names she knew for Christina along with any pictures she could find.
"I felt it was a big longshot, but I figured it's not going to hurt," Deneen said.
In April, a tip from the Facebook page led to a phone conversation between Deneen and Chris Gray in Riverside, the sister she had never met.
Deneen said it took time to convince Gray they were sisters because Gray's parents, now deceased, never told her she was adopted.
"I was shocked when I found out," Gray said from her home in Riverside. "I thought I was an only child. I thought I was alone."
The mother and child reunion took place at Sacramento International Airport in June.
"She just stared at me and I hugged her," Helen Torres said. "And then she called me mom. And I said, 'Oh, my God. She called me mom.'"
Gray suddenly went from being alone in the world to having a mother who is alive and well, along with four surviving brothers and sisters and 11 nieces and nephews.
Gray will move to Yuba City next month to be close to her family.
"I've always wanted a family. I grew up by myself with no brothers or sisters," Gray said. "This was meant to be."
by George Warren, GWarren@news10.net