Mom reunited with daughter she put up for adoption 17 years later after spotting her through a window
When she put up her baby daughter up for adoption in 1999, Gina Crotts had no idea if she'd ever see her again.
But one thing she certainly couldn't have expected was to lay eyes on her long-lost child 17 later through a dance studio window, through sheer coincidence.
Gina fell pregnant at the age of 19, but being single, young and living away from home, she decided she couldn't keep the baby.
However, before she gave her daughter - named Kalyn - away, she arranged for the adoptive family to send her messages about her life.
She received information and pictures several times a year until Kalyn was five, and once a year on her birthday after.
While her daughter wasn't physically present in her life, Gina never stopped thinking about her and would even celebrate her birthday with cake, candles and singing.
She never knew whether Kalyn would want to connect with her - but a stroke of luck eventually brought the two together at a dance rehearsal.
When Gina's daughter Eva - who had always known about her sister - pointed out a teenager in the crowd, she couldn't believe it was actually Kalyn.
The moment she had waited almost two decades for finally happened when Kalyn's adoptive father pulled her to the side and said "Your birth mother is in that room. Would you like to meet her?"
To Gina's joy, Kalyn agreed - and the pair have kept in contact ever since that one freak encounter.
Speaking about the shock reunion, Gina described the moment she finally lay eyes on her daughter after 17 years.
"When I opened the door, she was standing in front of me," she explained. "The first thing I asked her was, 'Are you happy?' she said 'Yes' and we were hugging, I had to pull away because I wanted to look at her. We couldn’t help but stare at each other, as we talked for longer, we would just look at each other and laugh."
Gina, who shares three other children with her husband Brandon, continued: "It really is wild to think about the odds and was such a great moment for me, I feel very fortunate. My daughter always kept a picture of her sister in her room, so if anyone was to pick her out it would be Evie."
In addition, she spoke out about how lucky she had been, saying: "We are very fortunate it played out in this way, I’m very aware most birth moms don’t get this experience and I’m very fortunate for how my story ended up. Placing her for adoption didn’t mean I forgot about her but pushed me to be a better person, I wanted to be someone she would be proud to meet someday."
Speaking about their reunion, Kalyn said that meeting her entire extended second family has been like "opening a door to a whole other part" of her life.
"When I first met everyone, walking into the door I felt wrapped in so much love," she said. "Here were all these people who had been loving me for 18 years, and I was just meeting them. It was like opening a door to a whole other part of my life I hadn’t previously explored."
Kalyn added that she now always gets to text her biological mum when something exciting happens in her life.
"In my mind, running into her was one of the best ways to meet for the first time, so I didn’t have to worry about the anticipation and nerves," she said. "It was way easier than I thought to talk to her, and upon meeting her I knew that we would always have a relationship from this day forward."