OWN’s Pam Slaton found herself working off the grid this episode of Searching For. Pam could relate to her first case, Aimee Hoff. She understood what it was like to never know anyone who was related to her. When she had her OWN sons, she finally felt it…being able to look into a relative’s eyes and feel connected. The show then took us on a journey of lost friendship and gratitude for those who help us along the way when Reina searched for her long-lost friend.
First the show began with Aimee Hoff from Thousand Oaks, California. Aimee always knew she was adopted. Her mother told her at the age of 18 she would be able to get her adoption information. Looking forward to that day, she spent her life excited about finally knowing. Hoping to find her birth parents easily, she was devastated when the information she received didn’t tell her much. She did learn that she had three older siblings that were raised by her birth mother, complicating her story.
Wanting to identify, she felt disconnected on some levels with her own family…an outcast that didn’t quite fit in. With Pam’s help, she was hopeful that she would be able to find her birth mother. Pam began with asking Aimee’s adoptive mom, Tess, a few more questions in hopes of finding some more clues. Apparently she had held a few details back. Tess was aware that Aimee’s biological mom had originally expressed interest in knowing a Aimee as she grew older. Her biological mom wanted Aimee to be able to meet her at the age of 18 and hoped that Tess would send pictures. Fearful they would change their minds, Tess didn’t send the yearly updates. Disappointed that her mother didn’t share this with her, Aimee understood. It is hard to share your child with someone…especially someone that you worry could take your child away.
Knowing how delicate a search can be, she met with both Aimee and her mother. Tess worried about her daughter but fully understood. Although Aimee was only 20 years old, Pam felt she was in a good place and was emotionally ready for the search. SOOO…Pam found Aimee’s biological mother who seemed excited. She was to call Pam back but hadn’t yet. Unsure if she was just needing some time to process, Pam urged Aimee to go ahead and call.
Pam dialed the phone and handed it to Aimee. No one answered, but then again it was the middle of the day. Pam then shared that she also had the phone number of her sister, Shari. Again, no answer. The focus shifted to trying to find Shari online. After finding a photo of her online, Aimee couldn’t hold back the tears. Waiting for so long to see someone who resembled her. They decided to drop off a letter to her sister. Pam had a moment…doing something she never does! She went and knocked on the door.
It was the right door and she was willing to meet Aimee off camera. Apparently Aimee’s birth was a HUGE family secret. Pam knew it was important that Aimee felt acknowledged. Following the meeting, Aimee shared with Pam that her sister was wonderful. Shari told Aimee that she was sure her biological mother would want to meet her. Two weeks later…Aimee hadn’t heard from her birth mom OR her biological sister. Wondering if the search was worth it, Aimee struggled with the feelings of rejection. I can’t even imagine the disappointment she must have felt. As her segment closed, the show informed us that eventually her sister contacted her…but she had yet to hear from her birth mother. Hopefully one day she will get past the family secrets and get to know Aimee…she seemed like such a wonderful girl! Maybe knowing her sister will being her some peace of mind.
THEN there was Reina. At the age of 18, Reina found herself pregnant and fighting with her parents who didn’t want her to have the child. Feeling alone, she moved to Indianapolis to stay with her uncle. There she met Tandra.
Tandra became a friend that Reina had relied on…someone who always reminded her to smile. At a time when Reina cried daily, Tandra helped her to pull out of her depression. After a disagreement, Reina took her 2 month old baby daughter, Arianna, and left only later to regret losing her friend. Still grateful for all she had done, Reina wanted desperately to find her and let her know how thankful she was.
After 2 weeks of searching, Pam was able to locate Tandra….in ALASKA! Wow. Of course, Reina was willing to travel anywhere to see her again. As Pam offered for her to call Tandra, Reina couldn’t help but be excited. Around 18 years after they last spoke, Tandra picked up the phone…and didn’t recognize Reina’s voice. However once Reina told her who it was, Tandra was so excited! Both Reina and her daughter headed to Alaska to meet this special friend.
A week later Reina and Arianna landed in Anchorage. Ready to express her gratitude for all that she had done for her, Reina made her way to Tandra’s home. Arianna noted it felt like family. A true blessing for both friends!