'Safe in my mama's arms'—28 years after being adopted, an emotional reunion at Providence Hospital
Joanna Winans was born at Providence Alaska Medical Center 28 years ago. She was adopted, learned to ride a bike, grew up and got married, and a few years ago, she and her adoptive family moved to Texas.
Still, she's always wondered what happened to her birth mother.
"She gave me up to have a better life," Winans said. "She knew she couldn't support me and she knew she couldn't do it on her own, and so she wanted to give me a better life."
She reached out to
, a business that reunites birth parents, siblings or adopted children with their birth families.
The group eventually found Winan's birth mother, Anchorage resident Amber Davis.
"She's suffered a lot of depression and anxiety and that's kind of the message that I want to bring is just the amazing job that birth parents do that they just don't get the credit for," Winans said, "and that's what today's all about is redemption of just amazing love and joy that she deserves."
Davis was recently hospitalized at Providence with sepsis.
Monday morning, after a 14-hour flight from Texas, Winans took the elevator ride to her mother's fifth floor hospital room.
"So nervous and excited all at the same time," Winans said from outside the room.
She pushed the door open.
"Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness," Winans said as she entered the room. "You're so beautiful. You're so beautiful."
"You want to come in?," Davis said, patting her bed sheets.
"Can I snuggle?" Winans asked. "I've wanted to do this my whole life, let me get in."
For the next few minutes, both women cried and held each other. They kissed and compared hands and feet. They made plans to take a nap and then watch "The Bachelor."
"I could stay here forever," Winans said. "Safe in my mama's arms."