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tv   Nightline  ABC  January 2, 2016 12:37am-1:07am EST

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this is "nightline." >> tonight we follow one woman trying to find her birth mother against impossible odds. it's been four decades since she was placed for adoption. >> it would almost be too painful for me to hope that, gosh, she might be out there looking for me. >> then an envelope arrives. could it hold the key to her lifelong mystery? we're there for every step of the journey, from the emotional phone call to that remarkable moment 40 years in the making. a long-lost mother and daughter come face to face. >> gosh, you're real! inside the extreme stunts of "point break."
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one with the stuntman himself. first the "nightline 5." >> these are my dogs dusty and cooper. i work for the dogs 24/7. i am the butler. shed like crazy. like being inside of a snow blower. it takes an awful lot of time to keep the house clean. i don't know what to do. what's this? swiffer sweeper and dusters? this is nice and easy. it really sticks to it. it fits in all the tight spaces. this is really great. does that look familiar? i'm no longer the butler, i'm just one of the guys.
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seconds. good evening. thank you for joining us on the first night of 2016.
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once again one woman's extraordinarily, emotionally fraught quest to solve the mystery of her own birth. she's on the hunt for a biological mother who gave her up for adoption and we're with her every step of the way she unearths the clues that lead to a surprising, dramatic, life-changing conclusion for our fear cease "face to face." a baby girl born on a fall day in ohio. but for that little girl now grope grown up, so much about herself is a mystery. >> who i look like. about where i got my giant teeth. about why i was different than my sister or my mom and dad. >> reporter: teresa stenson was adopted. for the entirety of her life her past has been sealed. but just last march a celebration both historic and humbling. teresa joined hundreds of ohio adoptees who for the first time can request their bird certificates. a piece of paper that can bring
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parents who gave them life. >> how big a life was that? >> probably one of the biggest days of our life. these were the first to stand in line to obtain their original birth certificate. >> reporter: joining her in line, her sister vanessa. >> good morning. >> i feel like i'm going to throw up. >> they were all born in ohio. this law that was passed opened records for adoptees between 1964 and 1995. it affected 400,000 adoptees. >> reporter: ohio became the latest of only 12 states to open adoption records. teresa stenson and her sister vanessa grew up in middle branch, ohio, north of canton. they say theirs was a happy childhood. but like so many adopt svlt ees they've wondered what's their medical history? who are they? >> millions of questions. where did i come from? did my birth mother think about me? >> ever think about you or ever want you?
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when my mom said to me, your birth mother loved you so much that she gave you away so that we could take care of you. >> did you buy that? >> no. absolutely not. and that was innate for me. even as a young child. i think i was smart enough, that didn't make sense. and no matter what, i always thought poorly of myself. so i was never pretty enough, never talented enough. never enough. >> in your mind, your mama didn't want you. >> right, she didn't want me. >> reporter: she says it wasn't until recently she even considered her mother might also be looking for her. >> you hadn't considered that before? >> never. never. because for some reason, it was easier for me to believe that i wasn't good enough. it would almost be too painful for me to hope, to have that hope that, gosh, she might be out there looking for me. >> reporter: teresa applies for her birth certificate and waits for that letter in the mail. >> thank you very much.
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step on a journey 47 years in the making. meanwhile, her sister vanessa starts looking for her sister's birth mother and finds a post on an adoption registry website. >> and i thought, i'll type in teresa's birth date. on that registry was her birth mother's name. and that she had registered in 2001. >> reporter: there was more. teresa's possible birth mother attended lake high school more than 40 years ago. it's the same school her son attends now. >> i'm feeling incredibly nervous. it will be interesting to see if there's family resemblance or anything. >> reporter: teresa and her husband jimmy drive to the school in search of old yearbooks hoping for a portrait, a snapshot, a glimpse of the woman who might have given her life, then gave her away. >> can we see some old yearbooks? i'm going to look at this one. >> okay. >> let's see if we can find -- oh, wow.
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is look at pictures and see if i could glean anything from that, see if i was maybe -- really like her, if we had anything in common, i guess. >> reporter: there it is. in black and white. >> i think she was adorable. like looking in the mirror. >> reporter: like pieces to a puzzle, a portrait of a past unknown is coming together. >> i haven't even opened my birth certificate yet to get paper. >> reporter: but teresa and her pray for. and painful. which is why the supportive sister vanessa is holding back in her own search. >> you don't know what you're going to find. come back. >> i think this is where we go. >> reporter: hoping to find strength in the story of fellow adoptees teresa attends a support group meeting hosted by the adoption network cleveland.
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cry. sorry. >> reporter: it's here where she certificate. there's no turning back. >> i'm opening this and i think i already know some things that are in here. but there's some questions that i have that i hope will be answered by reading it. okay, so people were saying what they were named. my birth mother gave me the same name as my adoptive parents. and my adoptive parents did not know what my birth mother had named me. >> how do you explain that? >> honestly, because i'm a person of faith and i think this is totally god's plan, i feel like it's a little wink from him. and he's saying, listen, you know, i have a plan for your life. and i'm just going to show you, along. you are who i meant you to be.
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birth mother's name, which is great. it's proof that i'm real. >> reporter: and that name led to a real phone number. >> here we go. >> reporter: the next day teresa is ready to make the call. >> my heart is racing. >> reporter: reach out to a stranger and hear her birth mother's voice for the first time. >> hi, chris, how are you? i was wondering if i could talk to you for just a moment. i didn't know if you were aware but they just opened adoption records in ohio. i actually just opened my birth certificate yesterday. and the birth mother on my birth records was christine lewis. and i'm pretty sure that i'm the person that you've been looking for for a while. >> reporter: on the other end of the line is teresa's birth mother, chris shirley. she had been waiting for this phone call for 47 years. >> you're kidding me. >> i'm not kidding. >> kathy, it could be my daughter.
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that's my daughter. my daughter. well, i just want you to know that i didn't ever want to give you up. >> oh my gosh. >> what was it like for you to know that, to finally know? >> that was really cool. that was really cool to hear that. >> i wanted to make sure it was okay that i called you. >> for heaven's sakes i've been looking for you for years. >> reporter: when we come back, see what happens when they meet. >> this is her street. oh my gosh. oh my gosh. >> reporter: a blood line no longer broken. stay with us. feel dry? a dry mouth can be a side effect of many medications. but it can also lead to tooth decay and bad breath. that's why there's biotene, available as an oral rinse, toothpaste, spray or gel. biotene can provide soothing relief and it helps keep your mouth healthy too. remember, while your medication is doing you good, a dry mouth isn't.
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we're back now again with the story of a long-lost mother and daughter, each with a separate quest to find one another. through decades of searching, what happens when they actually come face to face. at age 47 teresa stinson is a woman on a mission, searching for the mother she never knew. her birth mother, chris shirley, now 66, has always wondered and prayed for the baby girl she gave away more than four decades ago. >> i gave up hope as the years went on because i thought, well, when she was in her 30s surely she would want to know who her birth parents were. or in her 40s -- i was giving up hope. i was giving up hope. >> hi, is this chris? call, hope's restored. >> that's my daughter. >> reporter: on this day, birth mother and daughter will meet for the very first time.
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just surreal. and i can't wait to see her. the last time i saw her, i looked through a glass window, and i saw her little fingers, part of her head. and the last thing i said to her was, i love you, baby girl, and i walked away. and that was it. >> reporter: teresa and her adopted sister vanessa have flown to orlando, florida, to meet chris. >> ready? >> reporter: their hotel room just a few minutes' drive from chris' home. >> okay, this is her street. oh my gosh. >> hello!
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how are you? >> how are you? >> reporter: silence said more than words. a bond time nor distance could break. >> look at you. look at your face. oh my goodness. >> yeah, let's see -- >> i met her for the first time. and i felt like i was hugging my little baby. i have to see your fingers. >> do we have the same fingers? >> it's the last thing i saw of you. >> oh, my fingers? >> yes. little bitty fingers. >> i brought my baby book for you to see. >> you did? >> reporter: the baby book with every milestone recorded. >> oh my gosh. it lists your weight. two years after you were born.
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say, now she's, 2 now she's 3, now she's 4. now she's 5. and that was you. oh, you look so much like me at that age. oh my gosh. >> oh, boy. lost years. >> reporter: for chris, although more than 40 years have passed, she still holds on to old wounds. chris and teresa's birth father were childhood sweethearts. they were in the foreruss together. he was the escort on the homecoming court. >> i fell in love with my childhood sweetheart. we were in union town, graduated from lake high school. and wound up pregnant. and wanted to get married. it didn't work out. i didn't want to give her up.
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back in that time, it was a very, very shameful thing to have happen. >> for a girl to get pregnant, unmarried? >> yes, absolutely. absolutely. >> you felt that shame? >> yes. i felt -- i felt it because everybody around me was making me feel like that. >> reporter: in 1967, to be pregnant and not married and 17 years old was considered a disgrace. chris was sent to a home for unwed mothers. >> do you remember that day when you had her? >> oh, yes. oh, yes, very well. >> who was with you? >> no one. i was by myself. i remember waking up at one point and having about 12 nurses at the bottom of my feet watching the delivery, for educational purposes, i guess. dad -- came in and kissed me on the forehead. but during the actual labor, nobody was with me. >> what did he say to you? >> he said, i love you.
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baby? >> no. >> touch her? >> they wouldn't let me. wouldn't let me hold her. >> why? >> i don't know why. i guess they didn't want that bonding between the mother and the child. but i walked down to the nursery. i don't know if i was supposed to do that or not. but that's when i saw her. saw her little hands. >> reporter: chris later went on to marry and have more children, two sons and a daughter. but says not a day went by when she didn't think about the baby girl she gave away. >> she was born october 17th. you have a son. >> jimmy was born -- he was close to being born, and i asked my doctor to please induce labor same date. so he was born -- >> why? >> -- october 15th. i felt like i wanted to save that day special for her. >> what do you think now?
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>> it makes me dad sad. really sad. because she had to suffer. that's awful. and i'm a mom, so i can't imagine having to go through that. i can't even -- >> what questions were you asking? what are you experiencing? >> i felt guilt all the time. >> why guilt? >> because i felt like god blessed me with three children. but i left one behind. >> you haven't let her go since we sat down. >> no, because i love her fingers. i'll never let her go again. if i had to do it over again, if i had a do-over, i'd have marched right in there and say, i'm taking my baby and i'll make it any way i can. but i got her today. >> i feel like -- i don't know. i feel like i'm pretty complete. i see where i got my personality.
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some mannerisms, some likes. >> what similarities have you noticed so far? >> we're claustrophobic for one thing. >> we're claustrophobic. we look a lot alike at that age. >> we like blue flowers. we like a lot of the same foods. >> yes. it's been very comfortable. >> yeah. comfortable. >> when we met, it was like she was never gone. >> has there been any downside to it? anything that's been disappointing? less than? for either one of you? >> nothing. i can't think of one thing. other than, it didn't happen sooner. >> reporter: mother and daughter reunited. starting a new chapter together. since april, teresa's family has continued growing, reuniting with her father and grandfather and meeting several siblings. we'll be right back. guys, it's just the two of you. the setting is just right.
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finally tonight, it's the movie wowing everybody with its seemingly death-defying stunts. abc's nick watt gets an up-close look inside "point break" extreme thrills going one on one with stuntman jeb corliss. >> six seconds to fly or die. >> reporter: this, my friends, is not cgi. there are no safety wires. filmed for "point break" but totally real. >> wing suit proximity flying. >> let's do this. >> which is the most dangerous activity human beings partake in.
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single most dangerous stunt ever filmed in history, period. >> reporter: jeb corliss, believed to be one of the best wing suit divers, b.a.s.e. jumpers, skydivers on our planet, has cheated death more times than he can remember. >> you can't allow the fear of something, death, to prevent you from living your dreams and doing the things you love. >> reporter: he was technical coordinator on "point break." a rework of the swayze/reeves original shot in 11 countries by actors and hordes of stunt dudes, so many the credits roll for 14 minutes. we met at i fly in l.a., a skydiving tunnel, and surely the closest i will ever get to jumping out of a plane or off a cliff. >> it feels exactly like that. >> except you don't have the fear. >> exactly. >> reporter: weightlessness is liberating. although i am a truly ungainly flying lump.
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back to this. >> there's a scene where a guy is this high off the ground, flying at 120 miles an hour. >> reporter: obviously, don't try this at home with grandma's drapes around your shoulders. these guys have 17,000 skydives and decades of practice before they risk their lives like this. >> there's something special about going back to the old style of film making and doing just the gnarliest stunts ever. >> reporter: i'm nick watt for "nightline," los angeles. news. tune into "good morning america" tomorrow. and as always, we're online 24/7 on our "nightline" facebook page and good night and happy new year, america. may this mike: a nice first weekend of 2016 on the way with temperatures a bit above normal. when that changes and an arctic chill moves in.
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