For years, Chelsy Henderson searched in vain for the mother who had given her to another family at birth. She had almost given up hope — then one day received the best present she could have ever imagined — she found her birth family.
From an early age Chelsy knew she was different.
“Once you grow up as a child and realize you look different than your family, especially in my situation, you learn to put that together.”
Born May 3, 1990, Chelsy was adopted to Lew and Liane Henderson, and was brought up in Maine
“My childhood was great. My parents did a great job raising me. But growing up I was always interested in my birth family. I wanted to know what they looked like, what they do, and where exactly they were.”
Lew and Liane always wanted a daughter, but the process of adopting a little girl was difficult. Well into their 40s, the Hendersons were considered too old to adopt. “I thought we weren’t going to get our little girl until they told us about this baby that was in a foster home in Massachusetts,” said Liane. “They told us the birth mother had picked us to become birth parents.”
With two boys to raise Lew admits he was hesitant about having another child. “I was kind of against it at first, but then I started to understand her reason for wanting a daughter,” he said. “I wanted my wife to be happy and it turned out to be one of the best decisions that we’ve ever made.”
Although it was a closed adoption, the adoptive parents never hid the fact that Chelsy was born to a young mother. “As far as we were concerned Chelsy knew her skin color was different from ours. We were very open about her finding her birth mom some day. It was always spoken of,” said Liane.
Chelsy always knew she was born in Detroit, but little did she know Facebook would be her starting point.
Lisa was 20 years old when she gave birth to Chelsy. From her earliest memories of growing up in Detroit, Lisa said her childhood was normal, until she reached her teens.
“My life started to change around the age of 14 to 15 years old when my dad became addicted to drugs and became abusive towards my mother,” said Lisa. “Eventually, we left my father. We basically went from having everything to nothing.”
When Lisa’s parents divorced she turned to selling drugs to help her mother with food and bills. Giving up her first born was not an overnight decision said Lisa. “I hated myself just knowing that I couldn’t take care of her. I cried, and cried, and cried. I prayed, and prayed, and prayed, asking the Lord to help me decide what was best for her.”
Over the years Lisa continued selling drugs, but said it helped pay her way through cosmetology school and college. Lisa said she quit selling drugs and eventually turned her life around. She currently works as a physical therapist assistant and owns several homes in the Metro Detroit area.
Journey to Lisa
Armed with just her birth name, Demetria Sedresse, and the letter left behind by Lisa, Chelsy first attempted to find her mother in 2006. “I tried Google and the adoption agency that had helped my parents. They wanted to charge me $200 just to open my file, which I thought was ridiculous.”
The Hendersons considered hiring a private investigator, but the family had used all of their savings on the adoption.
In early April 2013, Chelsy came across someone who could help her-and the result was more than she had ever hoped for. After joining a Facebook group called “Birth Parents Looking for Birth Child,” a woman by the name of Christine Hively reached out to Chelsy.
“Chelsy happened to come on there and I happened to ask her who she was looking for. There was something special about her and I wanted to help her,” said Hively who administers the Facebook page. “I do this out of the goodness of my heart. Everything I use to find out who these people are, I use my own money. I take nothing from these people because everyone in this world has the right to know who they are.”
After many attempts, Hively said she was eventually connected to someone who had ties to Lisa. Through that contact Chelsy found a woman on Facebook who she believed was her mother, and sent the following message on April 7, 2013:
“Hello, my name is Chelsy. I know you don’t know me, but I just need to know. Is your name Lisa, maiden name Solomon?”
After more than seven years of searching, Lisa responded back to Chelsy with this message:
“Hi Chelsy. Yes, my maiden name is Lisa Solomon. Can I ask you what is your birth date?”
Meeting for the first time
When Chelsy first met Lisa in May 2013, she was 23 years old. “It was very exciting, but very emotional. I felt like I was looking into a mirror.”
Lisa felt the same way, looking at this familiar stranger.
“I don’t think anyone can truly understand the joy and relief I felt other than a mother in my same position,” said Lisa. “I was so nervous. Even though we had talked on the phone a lot since she found me, I was still a nervous wreck. The anticipation was crazy. When I saw her and was able to touch, hug and kiss her, it was simply miraculous.”
As for the adopted parents, they couldn’t be more pleased. In the summer of 2015, the Hendersons traveled to Detroit to meet Lisa’s family, including her youngest daughter, Cierra.
Chelsy and Lisa say they are incredibly thankful and grateful to have found each other, and are looking forward to the next steps in their journey.