Forty-year-old Jenny Thomas from New York was speechless when she discovered that her former work colleague was actually her long-lost birth mother. Thomas' story is part of "Long Lost Family," a reality show that reunites individuals with their long-lost biological relatives.
Thomas contacted TLC, the reality TV network, and asked to be part of the "Long Lost Family" show to help her search for her birth mother. When the TV program's researchers told her that her former work colleague was her birth mother Nita Valdez, she was caught off guard.
At age 4, Thomas knew she was adopted. She didn't know much about her birth mother only that she was from Rochester, New York where Thomas also lives. She spent 15 years searching for her birth mother, albeit irregularly.
For a long time, Thomas had peered into various women's faces wondering if the stranger could be her birth mother. Little did she know, she had been looking into the face of her birth mother for almost two years at work.
Thomas and Valdez met a decade ago when the former worked at the Rochester hospital as a part-time patient care technician. Valdez was, at that time, working as patient transporter.
As they moved patients from their rooms to the rehabilitation therapy, the two had regular interactions during the length of their stay at the Rochester hospital. Thomas said that while they worked together, she didn't notice any particular emotional or physical connection between the two of them.
Thomas said Valdez is a quiet, funny woman who laughed at her jokes. When Thomas saw the photo of her birth mother for the first time, she was in shock.
"I had looked in so many faces for so many years, [thinking] 'Could that be her? Is she looking at me because she knows me?' All the while I had looked at the woman who once knew me as her daughter," added Thomas.
TLC's "Long Lost Family" will make its debut on Sunday at 10:00 p.m., with 16 stories. The show aims to reunite individuals with their long-lost biological relatives.