Adopted Rochester Woman Learns She Works with Her Birth Mother

Adopted Rochester Woman Learns She Works with Her Birth Mother


By Jordan Mazza

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Jenny Thomas has known she was adopted since age 4. And she’s known her biological mother was also from Rochester. The thought lingered in daily interactions.

“I always had that in the back of my mind,” Thomas said. “Does she know me? Is she looking because I look familiar? Maybe I need to move so she can get a better look? And if someone was approaching, maybe she’s going to ask me, Was I adopted?And it would be that aha moment. That was the regular for me.”

Thomas says she unsuccessfully searched for her mother for 15 years. Then questions about family health history compelled her to try again.

She reached out to the new TLC show “Long Lost Family,” which tries to reunite adopted children with their biological parents.

But when the show found her birth mother and showed Thomas a photo, something shocking happened.

It turns out the mother she had wondered about her whole life was her colleague for years, right here at Strong Hospital.

“Never in a million years would I have thought that the woman that was my mother was an arm away,” Thomas said. “Right there, next to me, for a couple years, working side-by-side, talking with her, laughing with her. Seeing her as a co-worker, but also seeing her as a nice person that I worked with, someone that I got excited about when I saw, because she was a great worker.”

Thomas says she was struck by a range of emotions.

“Here it was. The dream that I’ve always been waiting to come to life. And I didn’t really have any words, I was in awe. Very intense amount of emotions, when it comes to something so gripping, so life-altering.”

But then she started to have questions.

“Of course I wondered, did she know? Did she have an inkling? Was there any spark for her when we saw each other, day in, day out?”

Thomas says that still hasn’t been directly answered. She says after the show’s reunion, her birth mother Nita Valdez was overwhelmed and stepping back. Valdez did not respond to our request for comment.

“A couple years prior I had that whimsical, magical hope that it would be fantasy-like,” Thomas said. “As I approached it, I started to think more realistically on the negatives, the pros and cons, and prepared myself for maybe it wouldn’t go as I thought all those years.”

But she says she’s at peace with the situation.

“I’m very thankful. A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to meet their biological parents. So whether the relationship grows or it doesn’t, I’m thankful for the opportunity.”

She says she’s also thankful for something else.

“My adoptive parents were absolutely phenomenal. That’s kind of gotten lost in this. And just like any family we’ve had issues, but I wouldn’t be where I am now if it hadn’t have been for them. And anyone else that’s looking or searching, I am thinking of you, you’re in my thoughts, even if I don’t know you personally, I know what you are experiencing, I know what your journey is like. And I wish you the best.”