BARSTOW • Nineteen-year-old Maria Aceves paced the living room of her family's Barstow home while her adoptive mother, Dalia Garcia, cradled Aceves's two-week old daughter.
A search they began when Aceves was eight years old was about to end Monday. She would meet her birth mother for the first time since she was three.
Maria Guadalupe Arciniega walked through the front door and embraced her daughter in tears. After 16 years, Aceves met her younger brothers and sisters for the first time. And Arciniega, 35, met her granddaughter, Delilah.
"I'm so happy," Aceves said. "I don't know how to explain."
Aceves found her mother through a cousin of hers via Facebook on New Years Day, she said. After asking the cousin questions only she and her mother would know the answer to, Aceves was able to speak with Arciniega on the phone.
Arciniega gave birth to Aceves at age 16. Even though she comes from a big family, she didn't receive much support and was not able to take care of her daughter, Arciniega said in Spanish through Garcia. Garcia adopted Aceves through San Bernardino County when she was a year old.
Arciniega said she fought to keep her daughter and asked if they could keep in touch by telephone, but was unsuccessful. Her later attempts to regain custody of her daughter after she was married and had a house were also unsuccessful, she said.
Aceves learned she was adopted when she was seven-years-old. Garcia said she opted for a closed adoption when she initially took Aceves home, but later regretted that decision. Their desire to reunite Aceves with her mother took them to a private investigator and even prompted them to contact several television talk shows.
"I'm happy," Garcia said. "I knew her mom always loved her. I feel like my daughter is complete."
Garcia's son Carlos, who helped raise Aceves, also said he doesn't feel any different.
"I still consider her my baby sister," he said.
When Arciniega arrived, Aceves and Garcia sat her down on their sofa and showed her pictures of a photo album made when Aceves was a child.
Arciniega and Aceves have a lot of catching up to do. In addition to getting to know her granddaughter, Arciniega said she'd like to have Aceves come and stay with her.
"I had a dream that me and my daughter were reunited," she said in Spanish. "I didn't want to wake up. I never felt complete until I found (all) my kids."
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