Covered by ABC News earlier this week, 21-year-old Jenessa Simons of Utah harnessed the viral power of Facebook to help locate her biological mother. After creating a new photo album on her Facebook profile titled “Adoption Project,” Simons took a photo of herself holding a poster with identifying information such as date of birth, the hospital of her birth, the name that her biological parents originally gave her, the estimated age of both her biological parents and contact information to reach her. After posting the photo publicly on January 27 with a request to share the image, the photo gained about 86,000 likes over the next 48 hours.
Simons was inundated with messages from people claiming to be her parents. Three days after the original post, Simons received an email from a high school friend of the biological mother that recognized the information and passed along photos of Jenessa as a baby.
The high school friend contacted the biological mother and the birth mother sent Simons a message that said “I think I’m your birth mother. I can’t believe it’s you. I’ve waited all this time.” The biological mother also had specific identifying information such as knowledge of the alias given to the hospital and the fact that a cesarean section procedure was performed.
Simons discovered that her biological mother was still living just a few minutes from her childhood home. When asked about her mother’s initial reaction, Simons stated “She was just very surprised. It was kind of intermittent messaging each other, but she said she told her extended family and they were all completely ecstatic that I had gotten hold of her,” in an interview with KSL.
Simons was able to meet with her biological mother for the first time on Wednesday and her mother contacted the biological father as well. The biological father has moved out of Utah, but contacted Simons over the phone to talk with his daughter. After talking to her father for the first time, Simons said “He sounded really surprised, but happy.” In addition to potentially introducing her own son to her biological parents, Simons will be able to gather vital information about the family’s medical history as well.
To date, the single Facebook photo has garnered over 160,000 shares and 15,000 likes from the Facebook community. Simons had originally started the search for her biological parents when she turned eighteen, but laws prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from gaining access to specific information about biological parents. While Simons did turn 21 during November 2012, she got impatient with the process and turned to the Facebook community.
Regarding the Facebook post, Simons stated “Everyone on Facebook’s been posting posters like, ‘One million likes and I get a puppy,’ and I thought, ‘Hey, these are getting shared around. I’ve seen kids get likes and get a puppy, so I should probably give it a shot.” Simons was referring to a photo uploaded to Facebook by the Cordell family of Boston. If the photo was able to gain over one million likes on Facebook, the father of the family would agree to getting the kids a new puppy. The photo garnered approximately 1.2 million likes in a 24-hour period and the kids adopted a puppy named Millie from a local rescue shelter.